A crowded sidewalk. Chicago. Ronnie walks along. He thinks, “I’ve got a pair of big boy pants. No one has anything on me.” The pants don’t fit. Guess jeans made them for women in the 1990s. He pulls at them and remembers the day that he lost his grip. The desk in his office opened up to become the windshield on the Starship Enterprise. Warp drive. He drank to make it stop. Then came the lawyers and the “peace” officers. In a city park, he holds onto the base of an oak tree. It’s better than clinging to furniture. Tree roots burrow into the soil. They know how to sink.
When she turned seventeen she bought a pair of boots covered with sequins. She wore them to church. Then she wore them to her grandmother’s cabin. She wanted to shine. No one could fault her. Everybody needs to shine. But her grandma thought about water when she looked at the boots. Bodies of water shine sometimes. Lakes ripple whenever it’s windy. At times a lake will beam sunlight. Other times they lose their luster. They let people look through them. After dinner, her grandma paddled to the cove at the end of the lake. She let the canoe glide over a spot where she could see the bottom.
His company won the contract. They would build the new hydro-electric dam. The engineers gathered in Tulsa: laptops, calculators, and drafting pencils. As a team, they drew up plans. They spent the first day, “operationalizing.” Afterword he met his wife at Applebee’s. During their second glass of wine she asked him about the river. Is it home to fish? Salamanders? Does it nourish any farms along its route? Is it pretty? He didn’t know. The university taught him to calculate. He couldn’t make any judgments.
Chad Hanson teaches sociology at Casper College. His poems and essays have appeared in REED, Matter, Flyway, Third Coast, The Chariton Review, and North Dakota Quarterly, among others. His collection Trout Streams of the Heart is forthcoming from Truman State University Press this year.
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