“Let’s Stay in Escanaba” by Katie J. Mullaly

Let’s Stay in Escanaba

By Katie J. Mullaly
 

I won’t write a letter or give you warning. I will listen to the words in all of those old-timey songs, fast guitar that reminds me of the devil, and look forward to the horizon.

I will just swim across the lake. I will kick and spin until my lungs heave your breath back into the water. I will remember to take the dusk for what it is.

I can wear my favorite jeans and a shirt that makes me look pretty. I want to wear my hair down and let it touch the middle of my back the way it did in November.

I wouldn’t mind if you watched me dive off the dock and pull away from shore. I’ll let you take notice of my leaving. A christening only gets you goodbyes.

Let’s see autumn smoke rise from chimneys. Walk alone through the past, hope that the people who have set fire to this are content with their lives and the temperature.

To put up with such a smell to be warm will always be beyond me. I would set fire to things just to see how high the flames would get.

I would drink until dawn before the firemen would come with a too-small bucket. And I’ll continue to swim. I will allow the sun to swallow me whole, become the horizon line.

Then, I will be a knife sliding through skin at a downward angle, like the meat it’s meant to cut through, the opening in your shoulder filling up slowly like a glass of red orange juice.

I won’t write a letter to tell you I’ve become the sun, sinking into the lake you look at every night. I’m right in front of you—you right in front.