Sun shines at just the right angle
against the picture window,
light splashing off the sheet of glass.
Stretched wings shimmering, wind slipping
in and out of layered feathers,
a bird glides towards warmth.
After the thud of muscle on glass,
the settling of feathers like seed pods
helicoptering to earth,
after the smear of grease and blood has crusted the glass,
the indent of green below the window
cradles the body,
and all around it life continues to happen.
I put a snowball in the freezer. In July, I reach in
for some ice cream and my fingers brush against winter.
Cobalt blue flashes across my eyelids. Your heavy jacket,
same colour as the sky that day. I didn’t notice in December
the texture of the ice, crystalline structures fused to form
this wintry ball. I didn’t notice the colour of your jacket
but I recall it now. What I can’t remember is what we did
after we went inside. Did we sit by the wood stove as blood
rushed back to our fingers and toes? Or did we part then,
you to your house, me alone at the stove, wishing
you had stayed longer? I only remember that cobalt blue, the sky,
your jacket, the way the snowballs you threw hit
like punches in the gut, each one a little more nauseating,
signs of adolescent desire splattering on my hip, my shoulder,
my cheek. My salty eyes showed my ignorance.
Your face a confection of fear and sympathy.
Foot after foot after foot slapping black asphalt
or slipping on sand, flattening grass with a crush of rubber sole.
Elbows and fists pump between bursts of air.
Damp skin glistens, eyes sting
from sunlight, from squinting, from sweat drops, from not
listening not looking just running,
foot after foot of not thinking, just breathing,
steady so muscles don’t cramp. Taste blood coursing
oxygen, pure motion.
To run is a way to clean up, vacation
between lunch and dinner, between in-laws and assholes. Thump-
thumping heart dictates, machine-like persistence,
sequence of beats. Unhurried
mechanics breathe in, breathe out,
foot after foot
not stopping; being still.
When I heard the news about Erin,
I pictured it happening on the road to your house,
that steep, steep hill before the last curve.
It had rained that day, but the sky was highlighter pink
as the full jeep grunted up the hill.
Almost at the top, it gave up.
Three of you got out to push— you, Steve, and Erin.
That hill was so muddy.
It was nobody’s fault. You decided together
that you couldn’t push it to the top.
You let go, all three of you, Erin in the middle,
so when the jeep rolled backwards,
she was the one who couldn’t jump out of the way
What do you do with something like that?
Some sick joke of a day, a bad decision,
the luck of the draw deciding who wins?
You sold that jeep the next week
to some unassuming couple driving west, escaping
the humdrums of New Jersey in search of adventure.
You didn’t tell them what adventures
the jeep had already seen.