August by Anna-Marie Sprenger
I admit that I used you over the years, to fill with light the cracks where my memory falters. I once read that Penelope didn’t trust a dream in which Odysseus returned to her, because she was uncertain whether the dream had arrived, like true dreams do, through the gate of horn, or—like those from a shadowy district of falsehood—through the gate of ivory. I am like this even now, often wondering whether an incident is truly mine to remember, or, from your vivid retellings, I have stolen it. I am clear in certain things: We sat on the deck in folding chairs then, looking over the valley onto Utah lake, holding glasses of cold tea made with the mint that grew between the rocks in the backyard. When I felt my glass grow slippery in the heat, I would grip it in both of my hands. When we returned inside the house you would count each of the splinters you extracted from my feet as though they were precious—butterflies that could slip away, or more fatally, be crushed inside your fingers.
We were endless in those weeks when the Wasatch mountains looked fresh from where we stood and the leaves along the Alpine Loop had not yet turned orange. And yet the nights held a stillness that only a mutual knowledge of impending change could procure. In the sky, Lyra crowned us with her seven stars recognizing one another’s glow: a parallelogram of sorts, and a triangle. Having never for myself pieced them together into anything more than geometry, I resented the stars for which my interpretations, though numinous, though true, could only be discarded. These, and the meteors that refused to show themselves, blue moons which to me, all looked the same. When you pointed to the sky I nodded, not because I understood, but because someone else had long ago understood for me.
Anna-Marie Sprenger is from Provo, Utah and currently studies linguistics at Stanford University. Anna-Marie’s work has appeared in Textploit and Silver Needle Press, and has been presented at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference.
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