We had just made a pact never to see each other again when she gave out a whimper and stumbled. “What was that?” I said. “Nothing,” she said. Then she paused. “Perhaps it is a sign. I have looked for signs since a young age, when my father, who was a merchant of foxfurs, found a desiccated forest where a city once had been, and entered it, and survived fourteen months within. When he emerged he understood his destiny, and pursued it with hunger.” The snow had begun falling. “That sounds to me really great,” I said, “but I can’t see what it has to do with you, or stumbling right now, or our contractual agreement to escape each other the way visible breath escapes my mouth.” “You’re a fool,” she said. “You ignore the facets before your eyes in favor of the ones at greater distance. I bet you’re not even aware of these closest flakes that announce themselves on my tongue.” “No,” I said, “I am most aware of those.” “Then I bet you can’t see the way my hand strides past my hip, now as we increase our pace.” “I have seen that, too,” I said. “And what about my name?” “What name? I have never heard it.” She stopped. “Yes you have. It is the sound most people recognize as a whimper. And each can hear it only once.” We were entering a fox-lined wood.
Jay Deshpande has recent poems forthcoming in Perihelion, Blunderbuss, Sink Review and Forklift, Ohio. His manuscript, Love the Stranger, was a finalist for the Kundiman/Alice James poetry prize. He lives in Brooklyn.