The world is gray and sodden, angry and resigned. The world says no one wants to see or speak to you. The world sends birds to tease and haunt you, rain to drench and keep you up at night. The world says sky is only sky, means no harm, can’t help the losses. A certain respite in the gloom, remembering. You dress for dinner, drive your car, call your mom like anyone does. All around you this foreboding, bad jazz on the radio, flyover country, its dark pocket a broad valley between predictable storms.
As a child you skipped beside your own reflection in the Woolworth’s windows, Sunday afternoons in broad downtown. Doubled so, you became the parallel lines that never meet in math class. Octagon, parallelogram, the geometric truth, the teacher’s crusty dry sniffles and the endless scratchy proofs. But that was later, long after that girl skipping, when you began to catch your own glances in those dime-store windows and wonder who would touch you. Out there in flyover country, those parallel roads stretched out to dry horizon, the covered wagon tracks from history class—you wrote the word frontier again and again until it jumbled up the margin of your notebook—or the train tracks that demonstrated perspective in art class, that met at the top of every page though you knew they secretly went on clacking their separate lives out beyond the horizon line. You drew your own horizon, shaky, too close to the top of every page because you didn’t want to color so much sky. But sky can’t help the losses, the pummeling wind, the inevitable damage.
The world says don’t look back. The world says memory, treacherous as flooded roads at night. The world says wet and gleaming, cracked and broken, how your double used to dance in the rain, how you watched her as you moved alongside, the parallel horizon lines that never, never touch.