The Heir | Andrew Coburn
Forced March | Robert Lietz
Dear Leader Dreamer | Gabriel Check
Antipastoral: Dairymen | Amy Groshek
Snapshots of the Epic | Gregory Lawless
Three Reliquaries | Laurence Davies
The Inexorable | Stefanie Freele
Travel Photography | Joshua Walker 
Post-Christmas Inventory | Laura Kolb
Cityscapes, Silos, Blue Nudes | Amber Krieger
Farming Silence | Lauren Ashleigh Kenny
Evan in the Tent | Walter Cummins
Three Poems | Grace Wells

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Cityscapes, Silos, Blue Nudes | Amber Krieger

	So this is where they would run into each other, in a town that neither of them lived in anymore, on this street under the El tracks that had once been a rush-hour shortcut and now was hipper than hip, all galleries. They made out under these tracks once, after too many Old Styles on tap at a dive bar down the way, where he'd tried to play the tuneless piano. The bartender, a crabby old redhead, didn't care if they were regulars and that he couldn't stand, she just wanted his head off the keyboard and them out of there, so a couple of patrons lifted him by his armpits and draped him over her shoulders. He clasped his hands around her neck like a preppy sweater and leaned on her, all 180 pounds of him, in a collared shirt with rolled up sleeves and the top two buttons open because this was when he had decided he had to give in to the Man, and they walked like that the two blocks to Franklin, him leaning into her, bumping her back with his chest, stepping on her heels. She wasn't really carrying him. If he let go, he would've toppled and cracked his pretty brown curly head on a parking meter or the curb, nothing she could do. They heard the train coming, creaking around a bend in the tracks, far enough still that they couldn't feel it in their feet. He raised his clasped hands and steered her to the right, and then, with a deftness that scared her, a control he shouldn't have had after all those pitchers, he let go, spun her around, pushed her up against the brick and clamped his lips onto hers. 

	When they first broke up, she'd looked for him among the windswept businessmen in the Loop, bent over the pool table in their neighborhood bar, playing singles-league volleyball on the beach. She looked for him even though they'd agreed that contact was dangerous, and even after she learned he'd moved back to California, and when she left Chicago herself she looked for him in cafés in Paris and Prague, in the forests of the Rockies, in the Mexican desert. She was sure they were going to get back together. It was what they always did. 

	Later, she looked for him so he could see how little she needed him, and then out of habit, and then she forgot to look for him.

	He was walking south on the west side of the street and she was going north on the east and she couldn't really see his face but she recognized his gait and the squirmy tadpole feeling in her belly that had always, when they were dating, made her worry she was pregnant. He stopped to look into the window of a glass studio where blowers could rent shop time and tourists could watch them breathe lumps of butter into impossibly thin bubbles of gold. She'd stood on that exact spot earlier. The centerpiece in the window was a giant bowl, deep and wide and blue, whorls of teal and turquoise, with spots of goldenrod and coral and white like schools of fish playing beneath the waves. If you owned a bowl like that, you would never need to travel. She'd wanted to dip her face in it, shake her hair out over its rim and swim away but she wasn't twenty anymore so she just looked down at it from the outside for a very long time.

	They used to talk a lot about art and how it could save you and in those terrible months when they lived together, she'd dreamed about a day when they'd walk down a street just like this one, linked by their pinkie fingers and drinking free wine, with an eye out for something for their home. No need to talk: a bump, a look, a swallowed smile all it took to say how they both felt about the scribbled cityscapes, photos of silos, and blue nudes.

	He stood with his shoulders back, his hands in his pockets, like he was leaning against a wall. He'd grown his hair out again and the springy brown curls, so like her own, were drawn back in a kitchen rubber band. She couldn't see it, but she knew it was bare elastic. It was what he'd always used. He'd dropped the starched shirts, gone back to his signature baggy tee and the old Levi's that hung off his bony butt. He must be painting again. The decision that had been the ruin of him, and them, finally undone. 

	She called his name, or at least thought she did, but even her thoughts were drowned out by the screech of the El sliding into the station at the end of the block. He turned, but it was only to look up at the train in wonder, like a visitor who'd never seen one go overhead. He looked hungry, like he had in college, for meaning and marijuana and her. She thought she'd raise her hand to wave, walk her feet across to meet him, but when he turned again and his eyes lingered on her for a beat and then turned back to the bowl, she continued her stroll in the other direction.

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commentary | poetry | fiction | chicago | spring 2007   

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