Most people know today as tax day, but for me it’s a year since this dapper chap wandered into the department office suite while I was prepping for student conferences. After a good five minutes of watching him wait in the empty admin assistant’s office, I got up and asked if he needed anything. We chatted, we joked, we laughed. He left me his business card and a book release party flier. We independently emailed each other later in the day with Jon Lovitz in the subject line. I went to the party.
The Illinois soil opens itself every spring for your family’s bones. But then there’s California. A car accident. Valentine’s Day. You finally found the obituary of the uncle your mother swears is still alive. The one you never met. The one no one talks about. The one that got away.
fortunes in spring
You’re a handful sometimes. You know you’ll probably be up all night packing. You’re not sure you love your father anymore. Your head gets fuzzy sometimes. You don’t know what’s next. You don’t feel pretty. You sometimes lose the courage to say what you mean out loud. You hope your students understand they should not have to pay for their education. You know your grandmother only loves you conditionally. You wish your middle school counselor hadn’t seen right through you. You’re too protective of your mother. You use too much tissue paper around your favorite books. You understand now what he meant when he said your arms feel like home. You didn’t escape the stereotype of a child of divorce like you thought you had. You hope your best friend wasn’t right when he said you were broken. You want to go home.
bubble wrap punctures
It’s your first day feeling unemployed. Two and a half years in the past, your grandfather, the Allfather of your family, is gasping and screaming at the six o’clock news, “I can’t contribute,” while his wife and daughter pin him to the hospital bed. Winter swells between your phalanges, beneath your patella.
The awareness of your conditions is the same color. When not trying to be productive, you turn the house upside down looking for the glasses you don’t remember losing over a week ago.
meets in the middle
at some point
after your grandfather died the holidays fell apart the traditions fell apart you fell apart
christmas eve service
candle wax runs past
the paper drip protector
With every snap, crackle, pop your first thought is not that you left the turntable on but that your turntable is haunted. When you finally get up to check, you forget which way the switch sways to turn on and off.
Halfway to town, it hits you he won’t be there.
Mistletoe is a parasite that stays green through the winter. The tides cause friction against the earth’s rotation. You and the others haunt the house for hours, passing through Wisteria glass and luminaria.
A whiskey neat and four empty streets later: the loud lock, the empty apartment, a single lamp left on in the living room.
longest night deer graze around the deer carcass
You’re rarely bothered, but after a city council rep in Wal-Mart’s automative tells you you’re beautiful, you try on your mother’s first wedding ring.
after the wreck 1% of the moon missing