A collage by Abigail Murphy
Abigail Murphy; Arlington, Virginia—
There’s an aching in my neck from leaning,
Head slouched over shoulders, typing, reading,
Watching, rarely speaking. And myself—I
Ache. Aching for a connection, feeling.
Rush of joy, excitement, sadness, feeling.
That feeling of uniting with someone
Across space. Seeing their body, feeling
Their presence. Two movements drifting closer
Together. The creek in these woods was in
Me, flowing. Filling me, smoothing me out,
While pulling me closer to faraway
Rocks. Jagged. Eroded. No. That’s too much
To ask, to dream, to walk on. Feeling this
Watershed moment. Afraid of goodbye.
Watershed moment afraid of goodbye.
I move with pen and paper to my creek
To soar back in time without wings or sky.
My legs are too long. My attempts seem meek.
Shining greens flow closer with a short breeze,
Taunting me with each move, dodging the fear
Of our loneliness. Sun rays hit leaves. Leave—
To go where? To return? No closure. No tear.
A home without a sanctuary. Huh?
Home? Where? Cars make it across the bridge. Leave.
No. They remind us those who leave are the
Ones we dread seeing. Search until I believe,
Believe green. We stay in our boxes, thinned.
Here, my silent moment fades into wind.
There, my silent moment faded to wind.
Another age, I pounded my legs up
And down. We kept moving. Rotate. I grinned.
Pounded, moved, rotated beside friends I
Understood, enemies I knew so well.
Me, now? Me, running? Agony. Mundane.
No thinking, constant moves. The mundane,
That mundanity of fighting forward.
Drifting with a purpose, takeoff, land. Touch
Nothing, but, then, me—then—I flew above
You. But I never touched the air. I touched
You though. Yes, we could touch when we wanted.
This battle between sweat and Earth—I used
To collapse in familiar arms. Friends’ arms.
To collapse in my familiar friends’ arms,
Oh, fuck, I would cry. Can I touch again?
Afraid of too many connections. Harm’s
Following me. Silence hurts. To feel zen–
Zen? I can’t close my mind when there is no
Pandemic—oh, fuck, I would sob. Sobbing
Has only come once. Day before the blow,
Day before my last class. I walked, throbbing.
Throbbing? Throbbing… Looked through the windows of
My elementary school. Each window.
Empty desks labeled with names. Signs of love
Suspended in sterile air. Looking in though
I haven’t felt that air in years. Moved in
Lines, lines now lost until we can begin.
Lines, lines now lost until we can begin
Are spread, divided. Each patron six feet
From another. But how far is six feet?
Far enough to taste how loneliness
bites. Far enough to propel me
deeper down, shoving my head
And tugging at my legs.
The stretching reshapes
Me. I learn to
There’s an aching in my neck from leaning.