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from A Man of Glass & All the Ways We have Failed

by J. A. Tyler

He holds his fingers up to the sky and they blend with the clouds. His lips go to say to her, to speak the words, to make the sound of I know that between us we have lost everything we had but today is a new day and different from yesterday and maybe with this kind of sun there will be something left but the words go to smoke along with his eyes and his nose and his teeth, all the haze exhaled. Going like this until the world is full of more confusion than it was and the people they look through a gauze like cotton stretched tight over the sky and her not knowing anything different other than how fog and smoke and clouds and words are all another way to be hollowed.

Sand is a collection of rocks. Sand is pebbles. Sand is sun. Sand is a reflection. Sand is what goes between words. He places a grain of sand between I and love and then the sand is gone and he cannot finish. He cannot repeat as he wants to you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you you.

And he knows that glass is something that he looks through. He knows that glass is a shield. He knows that glass is what we make when we boil down sand to just its reflections. Like letting loose his shadows on the sidewalk and taking them around town. A tour. This is where I used to eat. This is where I used to live. This is where there was something called me and then I peeled that skin off and what was underneath was this glass. Was this sand. Was this man that sometimes I wake to in the morning and say What the fuck is it that you are doing here?

Glass is a jaded sharp edge. His fingers tilled sidewalk soil, the earth between the slabs, the sprouts that will weed there. The living he is trying to complete.

Will you still tell me your dreams he asks but to a woman with a dog, not the woman in the apartment above the street looking down on the street and not seeing him there.

Sleeping outside of her apartment, the sidewalk a blanket, he waits out winter. He waits. He shouts to her window I see you undressing and you are as beautiful as ever but she doesn’t wave or look in his direction. She sees a cardboard box and a distilled summer turning.

Go ahead, pretend he screams, his lungs filled with anger and unsaid conversations and the pictures of her waiting for him in bed, her opened up hand a wink, a code, a gesture. Flowers as they bloom for one last instant.

This, before the air was made wetted and sick, before the words stopped making sense, before he grew camouflaged with the rest of the world.

Come out he said and she washed her hair in his words. Cherry shampoo and fingers through skin, weaving white on a palette. Hot water and steam, a pirate ship boarding. She walked the plank, she fell to the water, she treaded one two and then the world swallowed her, the giant gulp of seaweed teeth, a scratch scrape of peach colored coral.

She did not scream his name.