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  • Unusual Tightrope
  • A. H. Jerriod Avant (bio)

With one wrong step, the carpeted hallway floor will showyou its appetite for ankles. The creaks go unheard for the

footsteps are louder. It is a faking give, as if walking througha hammock that won't fail. Without care for boot, heel, sandal,

sneaker, the gait, the need heading to the bedroom yourparents made love in, it can be a lonely walk. One stuffed

with memories of how when you and your Dad would passthrough, you had to turn sideways so you and he could fit.

Other times, you just waited at the end for him to parade through,just white underwear, headed to answer the front door, proudly

unashamed and huge. The photos hang in the hall, lit byleftover light from the connecting rooms. These mementos,

pictures of grade school milestones, visits to faraway lands,triumphs, plaques, all concluded by flowers covering the hall's

back wall. Given in synch I suppose, is a botanic rainbow offered athis funeral, the end of a physical life filled with gusto, 3year old

gifts that won't stop panting. I often ask what is it about hallwaysthat makes them seem smaller after time. My friends say, it's the

fact that your ass has grown up and because you're bigger, thehallways get smaller. But I know that hallways don't physically

shrink the same way that grapes give up their smooth skin whiledrying in the sun. And if hallways did, it'd mean they were no

different from raisins, and that my Father's death somehowbrought out the sun. But there are no rays of sun, no sweeter [End Page 84]

song here and the hallway isn't dry it just feels empty like othertombs that miss their Pharaohs. I know that perception is real and

reality to some. I also feel the still air fill the hall when I'm backhome as I nearly grunt to drag myself through its groove like I'm

a corpse in a body bag of black leather. When I enter the room,I can't help my eyes being blotted by the stack of newspapers

and magazines covering the precise 2/3rds side of the bedwhere he'd sleep. Just enough space for my Mother to

sneak under the covers after she has stayed up as absolutelylate as she could. She nods off in the front room rocking chair

to late night talk shows. I wonder if she ever makes notice ofherself. It's a long walk to wonder what fear she faces, what

fear she avoids each night without him laughing, laying nextto her. It's time-taxing for me, but I'm much younger and years

quicker to step. But for her, what's the pace? Does the ghostshe might see but never share, slow or help pass the time? Am

I, a body bag of sadness trying to relieve her of any hint of grief?Does she notice it? Or when she sees any one of the three of

us, their children, is she looking for the most familiar traces ofhim? I want her to find him in each give of the carpet, in every

creak of the worn flooring nailed throughout the dry hall, eachmemory on both hallway walls, each petal offering oxygen to

replace the thin air. I want her to flesh him out of thin air. [End Page 85]

A. H. Jerriod Avant

A. H. Jerriod Avant is a native of Longtown, Mississippi. He received a BS degree from Jackson State University and is currently studying for the MFA degree in creative writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. His poems have appeared in such periodicals and anthologies as The Louisville Review, PLUCK!, Journal of Affrilachain Arts and Culture, Carpe Articulum Literary Review, Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems, and the Prison Industrial Complex Issue of Tidal Basin Review.



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