Selection from “The Green Condition”
One night we “just miss” each other. I am coming home late from class and the drink that I had after that I said was a conference with a student and she says she needs to drive up north and sleep there to get up early in the morning for a meeting. I am driving home, taking 50th at 50 mph, which is too fast, but I’m catching all the green and no one’s in my way. It’s like this sometimes when I am late: I can will the traffic to disappear. I want/don’t want to see her. I want/don’t want to catch her before she leaves. I have delayed. I have had a second drink. Not with anyone, just with myself and a book. I am reading Hopkins. I am memorizing lines. I am looking at the bottles behind the bar called Flowers. I am looking at the pretty bartender who keeps smiling. It is near the university and I am not the only drinker with a book. I am looking in the mirror behind the bar and fingering the thin pages and thinking, how have I never read Hopkins before? And then I notice the mirrored ceiling above me and I am thinking about how my double has been up there the whole time: first drink, second drink. And all the pages. Up there all the time. And then I get in the car and I take 50th too fast. And Phinney too fast past all the zoo signs and all the apartment buildings and storefronts. And I can see the Olympics, their hulking in the near-dark. And she texts me to say she is leaving now. Leaving the house I know she means. But I let myself feel it the other way. And there is a pause in my heart and a space opens up. And with the window down that space fills with cold. And I don’t text her back that I am only two minutes away and could she wait. She said the light would be on and it was.
Elizabeth J. Colen has lived in three dozen different houses in seven different states. She is the author of poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Steel Toe Books, 2010; finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012), as well as flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake (Rose Metal Press, 2011), and the hybrid long poem / lyric essay The Green Condition (Ricochet Editions, 2014).
Mary Stone Dockery is the author of One Last Cigarette, a poetry collection, and the chapbooks Blink Finch and The Dopamine Letters. Her poetry and prose has appeared inStirring: A Literary Collection, Gutter Eloquence, Arts & Letters, Redactions, and others. She earned her MFA from the University of Kansas in 2012. Currently, she lives and writes in St. Joseph, MO, where she teaches English at Missouri Western State University and coordinates the First Thursdays Open Mic at Norty’s Bar and Grill.