As Far as You
by Stephanie Dugger

—for Denise

Last night you sent me longing. Then I couldn’t
sleep. I remembered a campfire, someone burning
a finger, the smell of wood in my clothes. I’m afraid
to wash them—afraid the smell is what protects me
from burning myself.

I turned in bed until the sheets came off. You,
twelve hundred miles away, must have slept a deeper sleep—
your house now hollow space, an emptier place where sound bounces
and lights carefully on the bed, boxes of books, stacked
totes. It’s a place I’ll never see again. For that I am not grateful.

I don’t remember our last day together. I’m sure it involved
a restaurant, driving around in the almost-morning, you laughing,
me saying I want to stay with you. Even now, from here,
I beg you to come with me.

Last night, I’m sure you said you’re doing the right thing,
by which I’m sure you meant I’ll be there soon. I told you how
my grandfather tried to grow a banana tree in Alabama.
The tree never got above five feet and the bananas
grew green—never bigger than my hand.

Today, I’ll step in front of a class, go back to my office
to map out the rest of the week, go home and make dinner. You
will ask how it’s going and I’ll tell you fine. When I ask you,
I know what the answer will be—single-file, almost done, unbearable.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

Stephanie-McCarley-DuggerStephanie McCarley Dugger’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Calyx, Cutthroat, Gulf Stream, Meridian, Naugatuck River Review, The Southeast Review, Still: The Journal, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Zone 3 and other journals. Her chapbook, Sterling, is available from Paper Nautilus. She received an MFA from the University of Wyoming and her PhD from the University of Tennessee.

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