52|250's Third Quarter Review

Week # 38 – Long distance

Ode to Hundertwasser by Jana Heise
Florida Ain’t Nothing by Melissa McEwen 

When Uncle Pete drove up from Florida for Aunt Barb’s wedding in April, he stayed with Ma and me in our small gray house. His long car and Florida tag seemed so big in our small-town driveway. In this town, out-of-staters are like celebrities and the neighborhood kids stared at the tag, asked if they could get in, as if getting in the car would make them Floridians.

“You from Miami? Orlando?” they asked from the backseat, leaning out the window.

Uncle Pete, leaning against the car, said, “Naw, Pensacola,” and the kids frowned.

They all wanted to know if it was hotter there than up here and Uncle Pete said, “Much!” then he told them what he used to tell me, “Gets so hot I can fry fish on the sidewalk,” and they believed him – even Tony and he never believes anything anybody tells him.

It was the same way when I was younger and Miss Dixon’s son came to visit her from California. I was one of the kids asking if he was from L.A. or Hollywood. He was a movie star to us. He told us about beaches and good weather. That night, my dreams were Californiaful and in the morning I asked Ma if we could move, but she said “California ain’t nothing but gangs and earthquakes.”

And, that April, as I watched Ma (arms folded) watching Uncle Pete, I knew what she was thinking: “Florida ain’t nothing but hurricanes and rat sized roaches.”

Long Distance by Darryl Price 

Here’s the thing. I never thought you’d
Be swept away from me forever. Some
Grains of you still seem to catch
In my eyes from time to time.
What I’m trying to say is I’m

Sorry that we are no bigger than
flesh. I’d give anything to be in
Your presence without history or seasons having
Been hammered to your heart. I understand
That oceans will continue to live and

Die in our veins, but also clouds
Will rise out of our deeds to
Drench us sooner or later. I want
You to let go of me completely
Now and know that you are loved.

THE BROTHERS VERNE by Catherine Davis 

Underneath, distance is the thing, not time. Time, only insofar as how long it sustains. On one breath.

Kid can swim. Two minutes seventeen, second turn. Length of limbs: mechanical advantage. Slenderness of frame: reduced drag. Accidents of birth, not strength of mind. “Citius, altius, fortius!”

The bottom is tinted with fine shades of ultramarine. Surely the way we were meant to move in the world. If not gills? Adaptation. A single breath – extend until it capitulates and – I’m in. Blast the barrier.

Two and forty-eight. Carbon dioxide dribbling up to the surface. Soon will be nothing left, then fire, cells screaming, and he’ll give it up.

Burbles, gurgles, whooshing of displaced water. Sunlight refracting in shards. The solar rays easily crossed this aqueous mass and dispersed its dark colors,

Hypoxia. It happens.

His shadow cuts the light as he stands by, clocking me. He will be so proud: a younger brother worth having! One league only is fifty-five laps plus one length of this pool. Imagine. It can be done, in time.

Teach the brat a lesson. He challenges my three minutes, seven?

Every cell of my skin feeling the flow – a billion individual sensations. This is… alive.

Can’t be doing three, twenty-two and still… no, not moving. It’s inaccurate data. Reset, I’m done.

I call your name, but you don’t hear. I’ll sleep now, while I wait.

So? Hypoxia, he gets a snootful, he’ll snap out of it.

Brother, how will we reach the bottom of the sea?

Driving the Cloverleaf by Doug Bond 

Spinning through the ice patch he straightens out, turns left twice, and takes Bessemer northwest three miles to the broad swale where the engineers had cut the state highways’ intersection into four perfect bulbed ellipses.

She knows he’s leaving in the morning, but asks anyway.

“Flight leaves 8 am. If there’s no weather delay I’ll get home before
dark. Service is on Friday.”

“That’s a long trip.” She hesitates and then says, “So you didn’t even
know the guy?”

“Nope, didn’t know him at all.”

“Your brother’s friend, right?”

“Yeah….Well, I guess they weren’t just friends.”

“Oh.” She tries to sound surprised, “I really didn’t know.”

“Yeah, well neither did my parents. It’s pretty fucked up back there right now!”

Quiet settles in, only the sound of the turn signal and wiper blades, as they weave circles in and around the highway exchange.

“So why’d you come with me anyway you worried I’m all freaked out or something?”

“Didn’t want you to miss a turn.”

The snow starts coming down heavier but it is late and traffic is light. He heads up the northbound ramp yet another time, picks up speed a bit as they loop up again to the highway merge. Everything is banked just right with the entrances and exits sweeping wide and away from where they’ve just been. He’s beginning to feel a little dizzy, almost nervous looking out the window, how in the dark and blowing snow it’s almost impossible to see one side from the other.

Back to Wk #37 – Bordertown
Forward to Wk #39 – Password

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