William Doreski teaches writing and literature at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently, The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).
Pop songs choke the ether. One note large, a dozen small. A voice squeezed from a bladder. A bass tone crushed from bedrock. Backup singers grunting like diesel engines. I stare at a marble tabletop and try to believe the lyrics that flutter forth. None of them harmonize with the fault lines strung over the miles between us. How can you listen to country and western while I apply myself to the rock ‘n’ roll of my childhood? The discord ambivilates our entire history. Women sporting fresh babies slump into saggy postures and bark into cellphones. Their faces revert me to the silence we used to divide between us. Because our apartment was small, even the faintest hint of music felled us. So you insisted I sketch the urban geometry and hang the results on the wall so friends could laugh at my efforts, while I sent your little short stories to magazines that published them under ridiculous pseudonyms. We should have taken care of each other, or ourselves. The pop songs brace themselves against sorry old carcasses like ours. The music sways like the open sea, one ripple inciting another until a careless gesture sinks a ship.