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  • The Distance
    She always raced towards the end,
    skipping introductions,
    barreling through chapters,
    flipping final pages,
    and tossing them aside,
    before reaching for another.
    I liked to stare,
    tracing the letters of the title,
    trying to feel the sparks
    I knew the author stuffed inside,
    considering a single word
    for a moment, or maybe, two.
    We chalked it up to preference,
    likened it, in fact,
    to her life-long love for tea
    and my preference for coffee:
    slightly different ways
    to get to something warm.
    Now, sitting here in silence,
    I cannot help but wonder
    about the distance that collects
    between the swift and slow-
    if that was why it ended,
    if that is why she’s gone.

    Tonight I turned the TV off
    to poke around my ribcage
    at the sparrow lying there.
    Did it move? Is it dead?
    Or is some tiny spark inside
    still dancing with desire,
    its tattered wings just waiting
    to fly out of this dark cloud?

    Nothing Like the Elevators
    Palms pressed against the oak,
    she tried to cork the rush of vomit,
    but it came up anyway
    and stained the dampened shirt
    tightly clinging to a ribcage
    beaten blue by seven minutes
    spent waiting for the plunge.
    Everywhere was water,
    crashing through the cracks,
    and every drop a house
    for the late November sun.
    When she heard Niagra calling,
    she drew her knees up to her chest
    and screamed, hoping God could hear.
    It was nothing like the elevators,
    a brass rail always ready
    to catch a fumbling hand
    and hold it several seconds
    while the jazz piano chimes,
    and the golden doors deliver,
    men made for solid ground.

    About The Author

    Dan Leach

    Dan Leach’s short fiction and poetry has been published in various literary journals and magazines, including The Greensboro Review, Deep South Magazine, and The New Madrid Review. A native of South Carolina, he graduated from Clemson University in 2008, and taught high-school in Charleston until 2014 when he relocated to Nebraska. Floods and Fires, his debut short-story collection, will be published by University of North Georgia Press in 2016.