When you revisited your old neighborhood, all that remained of the past was space proximate to a missing home. Powerlines sagged and trees wilted—absent your impressions of future comfort food and regret, there was nothing against which to push. The lot wasn’t vacant: weeds and refuse filled it. Scattered and impotent your desires faded, ghosts unable to grasp the palpable.
You decide to flee; to float on the ocean’s miscast poetry of adventure. Unfortunately, the open sea is never more than the delineation of liquid and air. Your boat surges and its bow tilts as if to climb heavenward. Can you glimpse the land you abandoned, or is your yearning an amputee’s perception of phantom limbs? The clay you once trod may have seemed more tangible than the salt water now beneath your keel, but you’ve never sifted the aggregate of what is substance and what is silt.
The world is flat after all, in the sense that so many lives travel laterally and fail to transit the Earth’s arc, receding instead into infinite distance. In a love letter written to yourself, you declare the intention of evading this snare although your heart must break.
You don’t navigate by star and sextant, or the brown and green currents below, or the scents of organics borne on prevailing winds. I tried my best this time, you wrote, did all the right things. The only destination you could hope to find would be a house that no longer exists. In your despair, you fire distress signal rockets into a nighttime sky. As you watch the flaming trails soar away like years, no one else sees them or tells you that you, too, could have flown.
Michael Grant Smith wears sleeveless T-shirts, weather permitting. His writing has appeared in elimae, Ghost Parachute, Longshot Island, The Airgonaut, formercactus, Riggwelter, and elsewhere. He is an editor at Longshot Press. Michael resides in Ohio. He has traveled to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Cincinnati. To learn too much about Michael, please visit michaelgrantsmith.com and @MGSatMGScom.