Keeping With
Forrest Roth

Better awakened than awake, rare grey eyes satisfied stay on the path in a public city park. A non-color better than bringing color film. Forget the bird, she thinks. Take note.

Trained by consecutive male subjects of the camera’s gaze and he is in her keeping. Having snapped another private him by accident for the closet collection while searching for the falcon nesting in a high-rise condo, her camera points down in rest while the municipal rifle she follows remains up. Many in anonymity never find themselves under glass. But she leaves this impromptu portrait unframed, tucked under a fraying sweater seldom worn.

She calls him what he names himself to her later.

From artistic statement (discarded)—
What accrues in a background transfers itself to the unconscious. Wet sediment gives way, collapses, settles, rests. Then pattern resists being found. Nature resists.

At this recent subject’s discretion, a Turkish talisman arrives by mail for her. With his compliments: the piercing, glazed ocular of blue. A touch of menace. Will she think some part of the world is here, or does she even have to try? She makes a necklace of it. She doesn’t make it. She suffers a stretch of bad publicity—all because of the bird—her full name spelled out phonetically by imperative, or spelled wrong altogether, no one says it right, no one thinks it’s right, and he doesn’t think it’s right, it’s not a name under a photo to begin her with. It shouldn’t be her peregrine falcon killed in mid-frame. He insists she had promised everyone who promised to crowd her at the gallery.

Meal elsewhere. Try discussing. Consider the poor poor bird’s plume ripped apart.

Consider the not-so-errant bullet. Not hers. Camerashot holds together. Hers. They try. They hold.

From artistic statement (retained)—

Chance does not revive bone with the flesh. Photography does not. A failing of avian species is their devoutness, which we pay no attention.

She refuses to believe anything all over again.

Newer duties take up her confusion. It may also include her hiding fabric softener in the darkroom, scenting their laundry with his car keys—provided the latest him stored away passes through her closet undetected. She feels confident. Winter never arrives.

For awhile, being recognized outside entails wearing her evil eye.

Forrest Roth is an English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and the author of a novella, Line and Pause (BlazeVOX Books). His work has appeared in NOON, Denver Quarterly, Quick Fiction and other journals.