INVERSION by Rose Swartz

I was looking for you everywhere.
It was dawn here and dusk there.
I hurried through the green double doors, down
in the cave where I heard you teaching. The
interminable hall ended at your classroom door.
I slouched at the door, as not to
interrupt your lecture. Its subject, the myth of the
inversion: that one about those lovers who were never awake
in the same time or space. There were only two students
in the class, twin versions of our younger selves.
I was braiding your hair. You were strumming a small guitar.
In my lap was a book of verse, an unlit cigarette.
I raised my old hand to ask a question. A bell rang
inside the cave. The diagram of the myth unfinished,
its chalk outline becoming dust. My young twin
insisted you finish speaking, but you shook your head—
it was late and time for sleep. Your young twin noticed me
in the doorway, hand still raised. Do you have a question?
I do. Will you love me when I am old and you are sleeping?
I will, said your old self from behind the lectern. So will
I, said your twin, don’t worry. My young self began to cry.
I walked to the front of the room and erased the board with my hands—
in it, the dust of your drawing. We embraced and
I left two palm prints on the back your dress. Where the wings would go
in a different myth. Don’t imagine me as an angel, you said, even if
I look sweet asleep. You turned out the light and I rushed back
into the day, searching for a newspaper, a toothbrush.

Rose Swartz is a writer and visual artist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She loves to travel and most recently spent six months teaching in Beijing, China. She is currently teaching English at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan and also making prints of the photographs she took while traveling in China and Southeast Asia. Her writing has previously appeared in Carrier Pigeon Magazine, The Kenyon Review Online, Front Porch Journal, and Asylum Lake Magazine.

“My favorite old thing is a pale green coffee cup that has been sitting upturned on a stick at an artestian spring well out behind my grandfather’s cabin in Northern Michigan. The cup has been there as long as anyone in my family can recall. When visiting the cabin, it is tradition to drink some of the spring water out of the cup (after wiping out the cobwebs, of course).”

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