Chris Young


He wants to hear it inside his thoughts on the way to the restaurant, the way the words will
wind up warm on his tongue when he gets there and French or Italian and pleasing
even to the waiter.† So, he repeats each phrase, every Bon Jour,
allowing their names to hang while he imagines mentioning the five-mile bridge
he crossed from the island, the first woman who explained
how many times it takes to understand that you never understand the first time,
and how each coming of 45 couldnít be just speed, or age, or the last year
before naming the next war cold, couldnít be just the small circle for sound
in the 60ís or only the better part of an hour. He needs another stop for cigarettes,
another quick in the rearview. He believes when he gets to the table heíll have it
straight how there are notions of love on the one side, probably on both at one time, conspiracy
to keep truth quiet and buried on the basis of good will and fortunate misunderstandings absolutely
agreed upon and binding, and on the other, a reasonable design for turning away
from it all. He turns on Etta James and sings for the desperation, the longing, the over and over
trust in me and Iíll be worthy. He arrives with the windows slit, the heater's low,
long breath, the quiet condition of the carís readiness to stop, the restaurantís light
angling over the hood. He heads for the in, and he imagines meeting his first love,
Amy, here or at a similar place. And he hears her, still 20, still quietly
pursuing why he has so little to say, why, for all her loving, heís only sorry
and saying good-bye. And again, at 35, two tables away, shocked at how they both ended up
in the same place at the same time, yes,
she will join him, and yes, she has almost nothing to say of consequence, except to say
it seems heís been circling himself. He doesnít know how many years
heís been standing outside this restaurant, waiting, as if waiting, for him, is something different
and holy. Someone, from inside, holds a door for him now. Her left taillight signals;
sheís going home. He doesnít know if heís a tower, or a place -- already, a foreign landscape
of ruin.

Location: Eugene, Oregon
Publications: Samsara Quarterly, Can We Have Our Ball Back, Wind

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