Kathleen Jones

Death, Perceived

Your friend Sarah dies days after we move in together. I imagine her in a room full of windows overcome by the sun, like a lemon chess pie on a glass diner stand. When she ends every molecule present ceases to move for a minute or more before the living turn their heads away from her to look for the nurse or a sign of what to do. The room must feel all wrong, gleaming silent until sobbing begins to plant itself in that place where older grief has gone to seed. Or maybe the silence stays, the thick kind that wraps tongues in a cocoon of sleep even when there are a million things to say to Sarah, good things she should be able to hear about herself but can’t. Unless. My empathy is guesswork, a spectator sadness. You’re the one with the knowledge, the full tragic scope. I watch you turn into Edna St. Vincent Millay. I’ve never seen you self-destruct before. I should have known how gentle it would be, how like the rest of you. The city never stops moving. By the start of nightfall you and I are driving through it again, the buildings glinting copper and neon against the darkening blue. On the interstate, the traffic splits up and down. We choose the flyover, to rush the skyline. Another river of cars rumbles beneath us, a world of friction and screech.

Kathleen Jones lives and works as a teacher and designer in Wilmington, North Carolina. She holds a newly-minted MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her work most recently appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection and Gesture and is forthcoming in Heavy Feather Review, Baldhip, and Middle Gray.