This is the fourth season—counting backwards, that I haven’t heard from her. I’d met Madeleine in September, and left her there, too, eight years later by the Salines, red-brown and ribbed as her hair in rain. It’s difficult to tell apart what the heart remembers, and what the head remembers. But still, memory is what returns without returning—no old leaf will come back in spring. Yet, the trees are patient. How much certainty in unreturnable friendship does it take, to delete each other’s Candy Crush scores?
The night’s black pepper falls. I’m up at 4 am and already self-improving; I watch a tutorial. How to really wear a slim fit shirt without looking like a fool—still in pyjamas and my husband’s fleece dressing gown, because grief, today I haven’t a muscle to clothe you. I want something. My sadness, too, wants something. I search for her the way air searches for a flute hole. I’m motivated to remember again, the ease of her face. A pond of hungry carp. Each sparkle of light, a flake to her freckles. Try not to place a brow in, a septum. The t-zone. There’s this joke my father tells: “a sandwich walks up the stairs, realises it can’t walk and runs back down again”, and I live by it.
Nadine Hitchiner is a German poet and author of the chapbook Bruises, Birthmarks & Other Calamities (Cathexis Northwest Press, 2021). She was a Pushcart Prize nominee and a 2023 Best of the Net Finalist. Her work is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review and Shō Poetry Journal. It has been published in Anomaly, The Lumiere Review, Moot Point Magazine, among others. She lives in her hometown with her husband and their dog. Find her on twitter: @nadinekwriter