restricted access Holding Back the Sun
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48 Holding Back the Sun I step on the gas, my stomach riding the small knoll that counts as a hill outside Lincoln, Nebraska, thrilled at the boy, his red and black letter jacket, all mine, the capable arms, the beautiful nape, the mouth talking baseball beside me in the crash seat. As we approach ninety, I shift, a glissando into another key. “Love Me Tender, Love Me True” on the radio. Elvis found words for what I can’t mention. Maybe he could say why in our bodies I feel such heat rising, the whole sun bursting through a small aperture in the earth. We might as well be running separate and wordless down the slopes of a shaking volcano. Where will we end up? We don’t mention this either. Maybe that’s why, at night in bed alone, I have to touch my breasts and try to predict whether nature will erupt next Friday or later, whether anyone can hold back the sun, and how a person can live afterward. I press my foot, the needle shimmies toward a hundred, while both of us pretend that nothing’s up. In my mind I hear my mother say to no one in particular, Where did I go wrong? She’s standing by our kitchen window, staring at the backyard where my sister is imagining a barn for the horse she longs to buy. We are all knee deep in fantasy. Mother peels potatoes at the center of the universe, scheming how to pay the mortgage, her mind rubbing accidentally over me, alert to the danger 49 that I will, eventually, be blasted from her. What I want to know is how I can remember this gearshift, this boy, this speed which never happened? How fast I must have lived, home at my desk, coveting the ends of the known world, reading, reading, reading. ...


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