Amaryllis Lyle

Collisions in Retrograde by Amaryllis Lyle

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

               Skeletons by now,
               we’ve picked each other clean, 
               as bare as these

I used to think
his hands were like rabbits’ feet
but now, he rubs together sandpaper palms
and his eyes settle on a spot
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 

I’m not sure what,

               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

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.

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