In the summer of obscure destiny you went to Portland at two in the morning, and you would be back, but not in my lifetime. “You’ll never see your friend again,” they said. It was as clear as a bell and perfectly quiet.
The clouds in the Pacific sky looked like slow moving boxcars across a desert. The balmy flush swelled up into the rafters in the bookstore at the end of the afternoon. I went out to watch the black waves in the dark, and the blurry white horizon by day.
I got on my knees, facing Mecca, the radio tower and the medical center on the hill. Deliver me, I said, deep in the valley, late at night, in a stupendous heat and exhaustion.
Then a cool grey pentecost came on. I had an affair with a man who’d been in the war in Africa. I cut his hair in the yard in springtime while his slender hands rested at my thighs. Up on the scintillating hills the earth was waiting expectantly for an orange dusk. I thought I could hear your voice, out by the stream at night, around a corner.

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!, The Indiana Review, Fourteen Hills, The New Orleans Review, Digital Americana, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.