by Sushrut Jangi, UMMS 2009
Honorable Mention 2007 Gerald F. Berlin Creative Writing Award
By now, I could probably call him Al if I saw him.
We’ve had drinks together. Steak! I leave him on
the bureau – so hell, we even share a room.
Lately I’ve even been trying to look like him.
Thinking it might help. I put both hands in my hair.
Rub at my scalp like I’m picking out bits of lice.
It’s hopeless though. On good days, some of it puffs out
like cotton behind my pink ears. His luminous eyes
are bigger than mine, so I’ve tried to keep
my own more open nowadays.
I have begun to see more.
Just yesterday I noticed the leaves had changed
to that caramel gold of early autumn and the
three Empire State apples that my wife put in the fruit bowl
before she moved out, have begun to brown.
She would have been curious about him.
I could have told her how he studied
in a small room behind a clock tower in Sweden.
How he did fine work there, under the green
light of the pines in the window.
Hell, I’ve even started dreaming this stuff.
I had breakfast with him and Max Planck. We ate
honeyed sausage from Bern and hotcakes and smoked cigars
and I dreamed that they took me real seriously.
Al even said something to me in the dream.
I tried hard to listen but I couldn’t get what he said.
But by god, the way he said it.
The drive in his eyes – he could get anyone,
anything, to start to whir, to turn. I woke
up in a sweat. I looked outdoors
through the parlor window.
Morning was just a faint twine above
the black arms of the trees.
But I didn’t wait there for long though.
I rinsed my face. I put on my shoes.
I rose up. Began to walk into the day.