Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Places You’ve Been, Places You’d Like To Go

Matthew Gleckman

The blue light from the radio dial silhouettes the curve of her back, her chestnut shoulder blades with the summer-white strap lines, and as she whispers to you in the sweat-soaked darkness you can feel her damp words on your skin.

It is late now, in the sleepless, thoughtless hours of night and when you go to answer her you hesitate, for only a moment, making sure that it is her name and not one from the past that slides over the cracking contours of your lips.

From the stereo speakers surrounding her bed you can hear Dizzy Gillespie blowing softly through his muted trumpet. For an instant you close your eyes; you can feel the brass, the drum, the bass beating softly against the backs of your lids.

Your conversation with her falls together awkwardly, like a first kiss on new lips. You tell her that you love jazz, that your favorite food is lobster.

The two of you talk about the places you’ve been and the places you’d like to go. You tell her in a half-serious half-joking tone that you would like to be a fly-fishing guide down in the Florida Keys. You talk about burning white sand and clear green ocean.

In the inky-black darkness of her room she tells you that she once had an uncle who used to fly-fish, that she would visit him during summer vacations to Idaho, and that she had always hoped to learn. “There is something poetic about a river,” she says, “Its rhythm.” You promise to teach her someday but you know you never will.

A warm August breeze filters into the room but does little to cool your salted bodies. You notice that when the wind blows hard enough you can see past the venetian blind just enough to make out a fingernail moon hanging in coal-black sky.

Laying naked on her floored mattress you half-listen as she tells you about her friends Steve and Eric and Mark. She puts extra emphasis on the word “friends.” She tells you about walking along the flooded waters of the Ellis River with Eric, about searching for the perfect acorn whistle.

In the morning, the not-yet-visible sun creates swirls of orange and purple in the New Hampshire sky and reminds you of the cup of water used to clean a painter’s brush.

At breakfast, you miss it when she asks you if you want butter or jelly on your toast. When she asks you what you’re thinking you tell her “nothing.” You tell her that you’re tired, that you didn’t sleep well last night. She laughs quietly, the corners of her pale lips turning upward for an instant, and asks if that is her fault.

After breakfast you wash the dishes; you watch as the syrupy yellow egg yolks circle around the drain and disappear. You hang the drying towel back over the stove’s chrome handle. You tell your brown-skinned, gray-eyed beauty that it is time for you to go. You tell her that you had a great time last night.

As you head for the door you grab your hat, jacket and wallet. The now-bright sun has already begun to warm the wet mountain air and as you make your way down the driveway you shield your eyes from its glare with your hands. Backing away, you call out to your gray-eyed girl and tell her that you will call her soon, that you will think about her at work today. When she tries to tell you that you forgot your keys she hesitates, only a moment, before calling your name.

©2002 by Matthew Gleckman

Matthew Gleckman has worked as a journalist throughout the western United States. His fiction and poetry have been published in magazines and anthologies including: Telluride Magazine (winner, summer 2000 poetry contest), Continuum, Windfall, and Kota Press. A poem is forthcoming in Dazzling Mica. He is currently living in Issaquah, WA.

Read poetry by Matthew Gleckman also in this issue.

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