Collisions in Retrograde
by Amaryllis Lyle
There were once November afternoons When he helped me over chain-link fences or held my hot coffee for me while I smoothed my skirt and blinked into the mirror. How many Novembers have passed since then? Not many, but I lost count. And on this particular November afternoon the streetlights turn on too early so we’re left shivering, facing each other in a sort of orange, sort of lavender space without time or script. Charged particles circulate our visible breath like sonar bouncing off me sticking to you so what happens when a name condenses between two people hangs for a second then— I wait for him to be the one to make the next sound. Skeletons by now, we’ve picked each other clean, as bare as these branches. I used to think his hands were like rabbits’ feet but now, he rubs together sandpaper palms and his eyes settle on a spot indirectly just above my shoulder. I pray for myself, to feel some stirring again after I release you from me. We were once something— Patterns on your wall cast by the lamp in the living room as the last-call crowd milled unknowingly outside. I’m not sure what, exactly— the delicate gray humid morning, the smell of green grass trimmings, the sound of short-lived creatures. but it belongs not to this sighing moment, not to this November afternoon, suspended in frozen halos around the headlights of cars, but to a distant equinox, to a thousand cigarette butts strewn across his floor, arranged like constellations in the pre-dawn light.
Amaryllis Lyle earned her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Rhodes College in 2012, and has been an unprofessional writer and professional glasses wearer ever since. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, she now resides in the Yorkville corner of New York City and spends her free time taking fortune cookies way too seriously.