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As a Child


I knew you as a child. We were closer in age, in that place. Yr parents
had just the right amount of money
& a space for you, & always left a light on. Mine did, too.

I'm trying to describe our houses. Symmetrical white cottages w/patina
from the sun. Partially open
to the outside w/shutters. The windows had no glass in them.

We lived along the quietest river, almost motionless, like a reflecting pool
but not stagnant. That was possible.
The river had no bank to ease in by, it was immediate & deep

yet unthreatening. The houses were plaster w/elaborate trim & tile work.
If you looked at a detail, it revealed its math to
you for hours (bits of pictures I've seen of French & Greek islands).

There were choruses of flowers that stayed in bloom for years. The weather,
a zephyr. There had never been a blizzard or
a mirage. Your mother worked for a doctor. She was also the doctor.

The doctor's office was made of marble but had solved the echo problem.
Neither noisy nor silent. A low hum far away
even tho it was happening close. The doctor helped people

telepathically (there were no appointments) & simultaneously typed up
progress reports (that later evaporated).
The healing never ended. & there were cures. There was

a firepit & a concert hall inside the doctor's office. We cried about
orchestras. We walked around hot
on one side. I knew you as a teenager, all those years

& we never got bored b/c everything was beautiful & everyone was
honest. Enough information to attend to for
hundreds of lifetimes. The whole of history, w/o the tyrant

In our village, the bad things that happened to you did not happen to you.

One day, out of curiosity, we kissed.
I took you in my hands. A voice whispered 'finally.' &&

No, I didn't do that. I held your hand.

          That's better,

we agreed. That's better for us. Our agreement,

          a lock & key
          affixed to no surface

we made ourselves innocent again.

I knew you as a child, & so the future grew entirely different


Stevie Howell

Michigan Quarterly Review

Fall 2017


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