(from Triskell Tales, 22 Years of Chapbooks, Subterranean Press, 2000)

You are about to have a unique experience. You are about to watch a young writer hone his craft. These stories mark Charles' development as a writer from the years 1977 to 1999. You'll see that he was a little awkward at the outset, but something very special stands out: he has always had a beautifully poetic quality to his writing.

Charles was 25 years old when he wrote that first Christmas chapbook for me. He was a way-cool, long-haired record store clerk with the most gorgeous, piercing green eyes imaginable. We were in the beginnings of what was to become a steadfast partnership.

As with any new relationship, we had our unsteady moments. I was crazy about him, but I wondered whether I'd be able to sustain that feeling; I had a history of having fallen out of love with previous amours. I needn't have worried. I've never lost the intrigue I felt about him; that mysterious quality keeps me hooked these 25 years later, but more than that, he's the kindest person I know. Not a pushover, but genuinely thoughtful and caring. He's my beautiful lover and my very best friend.

Before we'd ever met, Charles sent me a handmade booklet of sweet little poems. Some were love poems. He'd taken my name and address off a cheque I'd written in the record store for a Donovan album. I couldn't set foot in the record store for a year after that. My intuition warned me that I would be too smitten, too out of control over this guy. But during that year my grandfather passed away, leaving me his 1912 Gibson mandolin, and I needed to find a music teacher. My friend Greg Torrington worked in the same record shop and he knew lots of players, so I gathered my courage and visited Greg to ask about possible teachers. I just about died when Greg promptly called across the store, "Charles, you play mandolin, don't you?"

We made a date for that first lesson, and as the hour approached I started to feel scared and nervous. I told my roomie to tell him I had a family emergency and fled. A couple of weeks later Charles called and asked whether I really wanted those lessons or not. This time I went through with it. My intuition was correct; I learned my first Celtic tune during that initial lesson and I also spent a very long time kissing the teacher.

Copyright (c) 2000 by MaryAnn Harris