Atlas and Alice - Issue 7

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Atlas & Alice | Issue 7, Summer/Fall 2016

The Telling Rubber sneaker soles. Basement bars. Something out of Cheers. Glass bottles filled with amber, glinting dully against wood polished by arms, hands hammers on bartop. Billy Joel is crooning from a corner speaker, a low undertone. I sit under sticky tables, small hands swimming in wide stolen drums of bobbing maraschino cherries. A bite of red teeth. Outside, pine needles spread like rivers through red maple and white oak, dogwood and box elder. The Lehigh Valley, nestled deeply in Penn’s woods, is a scented sachet of gasoline, snow, and earth. Bethlehem Steel Stacks, the lone steel mountain against the river, is dark among the bright nights.

New Jack Swing on the radio. Hips begin to move feet, shoulders, arms. Dusty trolls, with great gems for navels, stand mute, scream in color. Watery panes of thin, aged glass rattle in peeling, painted frames as bass vibrations crawl through blacktop, concrete, brick. Pressed fingers leave smudges, the small prints like lingering scents in an empty room. The Italian boy, hair so black it rings violet in the sun, a rough bell of laugh. He tells us close our legs, goose pimpled under tartans and knee-highs—it reeks of fish.

A Southern vacation moon is lake green. The only one in miles of summers. Wooden skies scratch glassy waves, two legs push a trembling first stand. Dale Hollow, Tennessee. A buried town. Geodes for gravestones. Holiday fun. Adolescence is hungry, inhaling these last moments, last months. That great pearl hung low, a lone bulb illuminating the dark water. Time’s hooves are felt, are heard even, closer and closer. I cut across the black waves like I am flying, the ski path erased as if by swishes of a broom. Grab the cord that leads straight to my stomach, and pull it taut. Eclipse.

Knee socks stretching towards plaid. Rosaries worn like necklaces, like taboo talismans. A prayer swallowed and incense inhaled. Pigments, brighter than paint, than real life, bleed from glass onto worn cobble stones, moving by the will of the sun. A hum, a collection of throats, buzzing with life. Tongues twitch in their warm caves, resurrected by pipes. An Autumn Mass. First kiss under scaled lips. Two lizards parting.

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