Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue 17

Page 17

All She Misses by Kerry Graham

The clouds convinced her to come. Ordinarily, he didn’t deserve her at sunrise. She keeps for herself on this most perfect time of day, this celebration of the sky: ripe slices of clementines, peaches, raspberries, even papaya, dripping along the horizon. Colours, always, that astonish, nourish her. But today, because grey cloaks this ceremony, she goes to him now. To get it over with.


by Kari Gunter-Seymour I could not manage the gloves, chunk after chunk, fresh-split firewood, that sliver sliding in unnoticed, but for a tiny tingle, in the struggle to keep up. It was not to be needled or tweezed besting me from all sides, my face sphinctered in concentration, sweat, setting myself down on the wedge planked floor. I day-dream the beach, your tiny boy legs brown, sand stamped, face striped with sun. I choke on clouds, thrown forward, your assault rifle cocked, cradled in the crook of your arm. Shrapnel, pinpricks grey and blue dot your cheek and brow, hollow pain that that cannot save. The numb sodality of death festers, fills your head with cruel grace, your memories impossibly wide.

“I PRed in my last half,” she tells him—not aloud, but in precise handwriting. As black letters glide across blue ribbon, she sees again the time that felt like triumph. After 13.1 miles, 1:42:16 pranced, red and straight-lined, above the finish line, and almost made her forget: before, running was never about enjoyment. It was exclusively for escape. “I got a promotion,” the black letters say next. Her manager told her what propelled her to this new position. Attention to detail. Mastery of Photoshop. Adherence to deadlines. But what about those childhood afternoons of ripped-out magazine advertisements, plastered to window panes? Her back on the floor. Eyes on the window. Heart on the lives lived in those advertisements. She recalls those years of yearning for a life not her own, and wonders at their power. “I bought a home.” She makes sure not to say house: assembled walls, floors and roof, sheltering people and memories unfit for, unwelcome in, a home. She wishes the words “home,” what she has given all to herself, and “house,” all he ever gave her, looked and sounded as far apart as they felt. She ties the ribbons around the stems, knowing now, after so many times, how to make sure the sentences show. Just like before, she leans the bouquet, accomplishments adorning wilting flowers, next to the second date. She turns away from the slab of slate and wonders if he knows: all she misses this morning is the sunrise. 17

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