We’re on the last horse out of July trying to hold on. We’ve got time and hot weather and outside the courthouse on the saddest block on the saddest street the people line up to share cigarettes and injustice. They lean against the low wall as if they might want to stay. You lick your upper lip. This must have been our frontier town. This could have been our fortune, coins painted with our faces. We want to unclench our fists to find the tremor all along was just the teeth of summer letting go or digging in or maybe we’ve been swallowed. We want the patter of the auctioneer to soothe us to sleep. We’ve got one take to get it right. The streetlights hesitate. We don’t bother. We’re pulling apart at the centerline. The night is a wisp, a trail of sky carved right across your ear. We want another morning. We want to see the light trapped on the surface of the river. Don’t desert me. Don’t desert me. Don’t desert me.
Today Is a Perfect Day to Fly a Kite
But I don’t have a kite. I have an egg. The day is perfect nonetheless; clear skies, warm, just the right amount of wind, today anything might fly. I gather all my string, tie one end to my egg and toss it into the perfect day. Over my shoulder it floats for a moment. I run. The string unravels in ribbons. My feet slap the asphalt. I run faster, furiously, knees high, one arm pumping, the other stretched above my head giving my egg the best possible chance. I can barely breathe. This is good. I’ve never run this fast in my life. I peek back over my shoulder. It’s working. My egg is rising, definitely rising. I don’t dare stop. The string is taut. The string has weight. My egg is flying. It must be flying. Everything is a kite. The day is perfect, but I slow down. I have to. My legs are cramping and the road limps flatly in front of me. I’m coughing and sweating. How far have I run? Holding tight to the very end of the string I turn to look. I shade my eyes from the perfect day and follow the string, so much string. I search the sky.
Patrick Swaney lives in Athens, Ohio, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in poetry. His writing has recently appeared in Conduit, Indiana Review,NANO Fiction, Redivider, and elsewhere.