You didnt know that the road
by the beach that twisted against the root of the mountains led anywhere
at all. You didnt know that the ocean tipped on its side in the afternoon
light had the least bit of depth. You didnt know that the girl in the
seat beside you loved you or that you loved her or that love could hold
any more consequence than sex and moss. All of it was as without weight as
the Mexican road crew on the shoulder, touching the change in their
pockets, waiting for the truck to take them home. This was the rawest
freedom, and even as your stomach was an empty field where the stars
burned, you couldn't see that there was anything else, any other time. You
were just burnt wood stirred with a stick. Jesus, how things held light.
And she held your hand. Do you remember that? The curves in the road and the updraft of birds. The yellow
grass and the tint of moon on the hood. A meteor could burst through the
windshield hot with atmosphere and bloody your lip. Or you could just
stop, and the fog would shine with a headlight coming toward you. Thats all it was, a headlight, no driver, a little boy asleep across the long back seat.
Still, it was a race, whether
you knew it or not. A silver watch ticked on the forest floor among pine
needles and owls. There was an echo somewhere that amplified the hinge of
your lungs. A truck just over the horizon beat its wheels on the asphalt.
You hoped it was just an image, of money and your grandfathers
photograph, terrible in sepia and wool. It was the memory of something
that hadnt happened, twisting like rope in the night. You held on to the
glint of gold in her earring. That and the lovely curve of evening rising
Now you look back. Its a fold
of mountains over your shoulder. Like the time you ate sunfish on a yellow
spotted rock; the dog that went into the waves and you worried about the
sharks. Still, you wonder, is this all? bits of trick candy and tin? and
the sky that only looks like snow? Though, for a moment, so serious that
scalloped edge of cloud, the talk of business at the table that thrums
with purposefulness. Maybe you could just sit. Yes, that would be nice.
The chance to close your eyes and see only darkness.
Joseph Young lives in Baltimore, where the art of dry weather seems to be lost, but where the robins nest safely in his grape arbor. His work has appeared in Hobart, The Mississippi Review, Pindeldyboz, Word Riot, Lit Pot, Blue Moon Review, Haypenny, the-phone-book, and elsewhere. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Things Hold Light was
one of those confidence builders. I began by putting down an image that
somehow popped into my head, and then I just let the piece build itself
through an associative process, not bothering to try and steer it in any
one direction or worrying that it had a direction at all. Only when I got
to the end did I look back to see whether Id written anything of form or
coherence. This is the best, and really the only, way I know of going
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