Roving Chances Will be Taken
Michelle Reale

Our bow-legged dog on the pavement in August looks the same in the backyard in November. Everything else has been lashed with sting of cold indifference. I’ve crawled on floors so hard, I thanked the merciful numbness later. For instance, today I found the browned pine needles from the Christmas tree last year under the radiators you painted gold. That tree was so long and so fragile. I remember how you shoved it against the wall. When you said “Here’s your goddamn tree,” I counted the objects in the room one by one, noted textures, lines, the lopsidedness of the stairs leading to the second floor where we slept. One pays one way or another for acute attention to details. Then, something stupid like Harvey’s Bristol Cream and some shiny ornaments later, I imagined the tree alive. It spoke to me in haughty falsetto: “Dress me. I will not participate.” It spoke a language I learned to decipher years before, one I understood with the cockeyed optimism of the condemned. I found not a sock. Not your ubiquitous toothpicks. Not a dollop of your expensive shaving cream, or the silvery splinters from your graying beard. Though I stopped looking I now see you on every street, in every car that sidles beside me, at all of the tables in all of the restaurants I will never frequent again. The dog is happy. His pavement view is a good one. Now, I keep my gaze eye-level. Anticipate a time where I won’t feel the weight of it.

Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in venues including Gargoyle, Pank, JMWW, Smokelong Quarterly and Staccato. Currently, she is working on a collection of prose poems featuring the experiences of North African immigrants into the indifferent society of southeast Sicily, where she has witnessed their struggles firsthand. She has published three collections of flash fiction and prose poems, Natural Habitat, Like Lungfish Getting Through the Dry Season and If All They Had Were Their Bodies.