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"Don’t Look" by Mary Grimm

I’ve always been sitting at this kitchen table, even when I haven’t. My life: ash from a cigarette, swirl of torn paper. His name was… . He wore a cap pulled to his eyebrows. He said… and blink, there’s music playing over the static, chips of song with only half the words.

(The trees are thickening, buds visible as a fog clinging to the branches.)

I hold on to the idea of his hand, his cream-slicked hair falling forward, his leather jacket, if he had one, his smooth uncertain lips. My own hand cautious on the concrete wall by the church, my hand thinking in its stolid way that the wall was warm, my bookbag heavy, my eyes taking in the sky (always blue in memories of childhood), my glasses, if I had glasses, sliding down my nose, my head starting to fill with a thought that would later turn to ash, to paper.

I am already forgetting this table, its woodenness, its grain, the jam stain that has lasted so long it’s an heirloom. The table is a prop in the play I’m staging for my twilight years. The air is filled with dust that glows and rises with the memory birds, smudged as they are, and torn, parts of a puzzle I can’t solve or forget. His name began with an F.

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