On the Night of the Orlando Shooting
Perhaps she texted at the end of her shift
and the other had been waiting for the ping.
As they greeted one another in the street
the air was a thick braid of something humid,
watery, ancient. And they were shy,
because a lot can happen in three days. One dressed up,
and one dressed down. So as they walked side by side,
not quite holding hands, they were uneven
like two candles, illuminated deep.
As they rode the bus, one told a story
of her childhood. How she’d written, “I love you”
to her friend, and learned it wasn’t okay
to speak from the heart. Perhaps in the club,
it was hard to dance—they hadn’t used their bodies
in this way; it was hard to hear
the music. But eventually they heard it
like a train approaching from far away.
It was coming, but it was also going;
it connected them at the middle of their lives.
Perhaps, before they touched, one left
to buy her another drink and returned,
the vodka and juice spilling on her hands.
They passed it back and forth, taking small sips,
and moved, every few minutes striking
a formation that felt real. An arm over the head,
a bend of the knees, exploring the latitudes
of night and the club and the unknown bodies,
surrounding them like a forest of trees.
So when she finally pulled her close, she was unsure
if it was the perfume or the smell of her neck
that made her close her eyes, and lean in
as if she were sinking into the earth after a rain.
Aviva Kasowski’s poems have appeared in Spillway, The Packinghouse Review, and the Cancer Poetry Project Anthology. She received her MFA from The University of California, Riverside, where she was awarded a Chancellor’s Fellowship of Distinction. Since then she has been a Bread Loaf work-study scholar and a poetry resident at Art Farm, Nebraska. She works as a learning specialist at a school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and will relocate to Athens, Georgia this summer to begin her PhD studies in English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.