Thunder approaches sideways. I’ve just learned that a friend has starved to death. Although her photographs make her look invincible, her great bulk was deceptive. She shed a hundred pounds in a single withering. Then her organs failed, leaving only a costume of flesh.
Watching the famous historian scribbling in a café I feel how difficult his angle of vision. Although I’m seated behind him I have a sturdy view of his structure. His seersucker jacket clings like a jilted lover. From the rear, he looks too steep to conquer. His impossible height has stooped over his work, but remains frightening. I’m frightened not only by his awkward posture but by the thunder crawling on all fours, dragging hundreds of carcasses.
Maybe my friend swims among those cloudy victims. Maybe her loss of focus defines her more clearly than she’s ever before been defined. The historian could research her ascent to the thunder, but he’s busy with a study of philanthropy in the late nineteenth century. He has told me how crudely the robber barons exerted their largesse. He described for me the clash of egos that spilled into a thousand rivers and polluted them. How much disease or unease can one era absorb?
Too many screams unravel in the skyways. How can I parse them to identify my friend’s? How can an honest historian place them in a context that has no beginning or end?
William Doreski’s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).