Winter 2017 — THE POTOMAC

To Make a Diagram of Longing on the Coldest Night of the Year

Kristina Marie Darling

Around his face is an imagined brightness, and its manifestation depends on my acceptance of a set of rules. Static, then snow. The telephone rings and there is only one way a train can stammer on frozen tracks. Hours later, I will place the hand–mirror in its small box as though articulating a wish: the cold front doesn't sleep in the body, but always outside of it.

The laws that govern light, sound, and weather are sometimes described as "narrative." The sky above is no longer pretty if the tea roses have been buried under a sheet of ice. As in a romantic comedy, those who abide by a set of principles begin to forget that the world outside is no machine. To picture him in such proximity is to disturb the floor that holds the furniture in place, and in doing so, descend into a smaller, and more hospitable, room.

If radiance is a known thing, our place within it is less certain, as light has been known to manipulate its surroundings, striking the iron rail of a window neither of us knew was there. I close my eyes and it is hardly dark, even now, even when the house is quiet.


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