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The way the two women walk six feet apart, one on the sidewalk and the other in the empty street = the way the body and the soul walk together in the afterlife.
Chatting = remembering.
How one of the women gestures with her hands when she speaks, shaping the air into invisible shapes = ideas in the afterlife, shapes made of air
= is a statement of equivalence without value.
The way the other woman, the one whose body seems still even as she speaks, seems more introspective, more of a listener = how a person in life encounters the unknown, if they’re lucky, to speak and listen to the unknown.
When the space between the two friends on their night walk = intimacy, they have achieved their goal, which is not to let the particulars of existence determine personhood.
Six feet apart does not = six feet under.
Walking in the street where there are no cars = a feeling from childhood, from summertime.
Walking on the sidewalk with her friend walking in the street = a feeling of maturity, being ever-so-slightly in charge, that first moment of control, an inflection point of adulthood.
Both women laugh when they get to the cul-de-sac. One woman has an especially great laugh, with a bit of a bark to it, and the other swallows her laugh a little, but laughs so well at everything. They both know this is funny, as they consider without speaking whether to circle the loop in the same formation, or to change their walking arrangement as they walk back home, and who will walk where. The spontaneity of their laughter, and the eye contact held for longer than the laugh lasts, make them stop for a moment, smile to one another, and to understand without comment –
that this = the seen and the unseen –
and the luck when all of the affections between all of our differences are = .
Alan Michael Parker
Alan Michael Parker is the author of four novels, the two most recent with Dzanc Books, and nine collections of poetry, including The Age of Discovery, forthcoming from Tupelo Press in October of 2020. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including three Pushcart Prizes, two selections in Best American Poetry, the North Carolina Book Award, the Fineline Prize, the Lunate 500 Prize, and the Brockman-Campbell Award. He holds the Houchens Chair in English at Davidson College.