Lu: Driftwood


Watch the chalk

draw. It teases out parallel ovals, the powder swoons.

It is a blunt dagger.

*

In his mind he sees an abandoned amusement park, eaves cleaving and

boardwalk steaming. They pluck four-leaf clovers from hopscotch

cracks and climb roller coasters, rust flaking.

He came home late, especially when they were in his office. She was just

out of college, but already positing solutions to quantum fluctuations,

Calabi-Yau spaces, superstring theory. The air dripped at intervals.

“It is an old prescription, but my imagination has adjusted.”

They start to eat lunch together. They slide down icy banks on trays.

They sneak to a math lounge to play Parcheesi. They walk in lock-step,

avoid inauspicious cracks. Both thought the other was too careful. Both

wanted to leave this leeched, snowy school and travel, wear as little as

they could manage. He communicated this, in eye-whispers.

“Inside the folds of equations we are exhausted.”

Her ponytail bent, like a pendulum. The one in his grandfather clock

had stopped working.

Her wrists held two bands. She would snap its rubber.

Her feet poured blue. Ballet flats, squeaking against scratchy rug. Arches

lifted her heel up, and she was frozen.

“The back of my hand is damp. It feels moist and fresh,

but chills quickly.”

*

His wife transformed into her, faces melding when she mounted him,

her fat folding, wispy hair darkening. He would not moan, for fear of

uttering the wrong name. He began to observe himself observing

himself thinking.

The bedspread

Goldilocks-stained red

traces of belonging.

When he drove home from work, the radio would play his heart.

“When I wood-work, I crack molecules. Splinters of chestnut

break through my hands.”

Here is a bowl. A canoe.

A kibanda constructed with

Let her desk

stare in dim light. Fly away.

Driftwood floats and jostles.

His book bindings crease, but she turns to loose-leaf sheets.

An office, stuffed ripe, decays.

He said to his wife, “Once, when I was a little boy,

my neighbor asked me to get naked. We rumpled

sheets, our skin holding firm like Velcro.”

*

Her face appears at a conference.

Her ponytail is blurry.

Her smile rouges text onscreen. She turns

and catches his eye. She holds it in wet hands:

“This wood slat is curved to hold chalk. Is there chalk?”

Peter Lu is a senior in Berkeley College and a staff columnist for the News.

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