In May, steam hangs on the river like a hand brushing hair from a child’s forehead. Bare but a t-shirt, toes blue with the cold, she presses her body against the wood paneled wall. She traces steeples in the fog on the window. Twins her legs with mine. Her father’s father helped build the atomic bomb, his kidneys failing, saying over and over again “what matters only is matter.” On the floors of a factory somewhere, he wrung his hands raw with motion. “I dream about him,” she says. “About his mustache, about the way he and his lovers must have moved together in the dark.” She talks about his sex, the exchange of energy after the daily production of such was done. She thinks I look like him. “Your light is a lantern,” she says. “Like his pale face in all the old photos.” High cheekbones, ghost orbs interrupting the sepia. Her hands are electric on my back. “Your light is a warming mantle, a 1940’s Coleman Sunshine of the Night.”
Russell Brakefield teaches writing at the University of Michigan. His writing has appeared in the Indiana Review, New Orleans Review, Poet Lore, Crab Orchard Review, Hobart, Drunken Boat and elsewhere.