I once lived in half a dorm room in the middle of Paris, right across from the École des Mines. Every afternoon, from the speaker of a rickety, cheap tape recorder, the music of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto stretched its immense arms past the chipped, hundred-year-old bathroom sink that doubled as a kitchen sink, over the cold communal showers, the ancient grease-thickened hot plates, and the toilet in the hallway, operated by a string.
You met a guy online. You have had four or five dates, and you haven’t so much as held hands. He is artistic. His expensive button-down shirts are decorated with bold, colorful patterns. He has two tickets to the Body Worlds Exhibition in Denver. A traveling display of human bodies and body parts that have been preserved using a process called plastination.
When I was a child in the late 1950s, the streetlights ended two blocks before our neighborhood on the edge of our small Ohio town. Given the midwestern custom of early dinners, my friends and I often played outside afterward. On dark, moonless nights in late fall and winter, familiar yards were transformed into mysterious black voids relieved only by trash burning here and there in an oil drum.
Sam and Kat, Kat and Sam, as unassuming as their three-letter names but, to their minds, violent with potential. In the spring of 1998, they met in St. Louis, when they both had to board a bigger bus. Two kids in zipped pullovers smoking and picking at their fingers as they watched the driver fling their bags into the belly of the coach as if they weren’t their only belongings in the world.
The zombie community is astir with controversy. One faction insists that zombies are mindless creatures who cannot make the traditional moan for “brains.” And that in any case, they don’t crave brains specifically, but the flesh, blood, and organs of any living human. This is what I’ve learned from scrolling through chat boards.
The trees distract my attention and remember me as a passing,
as do the open windows and doors, and a flashing bicyclist
and a line of schoolkids on a rope between their tenders.
I move uneasily across a bridge, my hair gusting.
I’ve forgotten my little hat with the brim so I fret a little.