- A Matter of Distance, A Matter of Time
Ruth JoffreThink of space as a series of smaller and smaller enclosures:the house we lived in, its rusted spigot and piles of firewoodnestled deep in the forest where only the air could touch it—and still the air felt like too much. We were vulnerable there
under the shadow of the white ash, the second storywith its frosted windows and clear view of the riverseeming like a dream left over from some other lifewe lived apart. From our bed we could see down tothe roof of the sunporch, the family of red-breasted
robins who built a nest while we smoked.At night, we lit candles: for the scent, forthe shimmer of the fire that drew us backto watch a frantic moth catch on the wickand burn down. We were so exhausted, itseemed like a relief to go inside, to end it
once and for all. One after the other,the doors closed, like stars, bangingshut when no one’s looking. I guessI expected an explosion, a spectacle.But there was only me, sitting there,there on the living room floor whileyou packed your things so quietly, I
thought I was still in love.How far away can you be [End Page 155] if I still hear you leaving?Let’s not pretend it’s easylet’s not pretend I haven’tsometimes wished on thatblack patch in the road, soyou always cross it safely. [End Page 156]
Ruth Joffre ’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, the Masters Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Nashville Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. Kelly Link selected her story “Night Beast” as the winner of the Masters Review ’s 2016 Fall Fiction Contest. She lives in Seattle, where she teaches at the Hugo House.