Now that the light has turned I’m re-reading a letter from an old friend. It reminds me, even now, of the day he sent it, the same day we’d last seen each other: A diner. A white sky outside. A pair of dusty spruces. All that laughter hanging from boughs like mistletoe and this too is a dream, I say to myself, this too will pass—one day you will be somewhere else, with cold boots snug around your ankles and someone you’re with will pour your coffee just the way you like it—wearing that intimacy still—and you will think: this is the last time, because you can feel it on your tongue in the coffee. It will be like watching yourself watch yourself–and when it is over, because it is, it is—you find you can’t remember how it all started or if you’ve ever been there in the first place.
Sarah A. Etlinger is an English professor who lives in Milwaukee, WI, with her family. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of 3 books, most recently The Weather Gods (Fernwood, 2022). Recent work appears in Rust and Moth and Minyan Magazine.