I am high on nitrous oxide. Or did the assistant just say that? Am I? I am? Is my iPod plugged into my ear or is that an angel? Emmy Lou Harris is singing The Boxer and I lose my equilibrium in the whirling of my brain. It should be someone else whose name I can't remember just now. Simone? Nina Simone? No. Garfinkel? Garfunkel? Simon and Garfunkel. Yes. Emmy Lou sings on: Li-la-li, li-la-li li, li,li, li. I'm lying in this chair, afloat in her voice. Drifting on her raw, urgent voice with no paddle up my canoe. Is that right? No, Christina. The assistant says something. I was just waiting for someone like you, Emmy sings. I open my mouth and nod as if knowing what was asked. The good patient. But I am not in this chair, I am rising above the student center at my old college, where the steps are littered with leaves— gold, red, brown. Good times and lovers... In the mist, the old main building remains, standing stately on the corner across the quad in gray stone and dim hallways where it was torn down in '68, and we live down the block and I am young again. All of us are still alive. I've grown used to losing what I'm fondest of. I think of boys I knew there—never more than friendly strangers, but returning to me now in this numb fog of pleasure and pain. Three brothers, dead for years now. My mother, father, friends. That girl down the hall who was killed my freshman year. Her room as empty as her parents’ faces when they came to gather her belongings. I don’t want to remember what I am in this state: I've gone inside the student center, down the stairs, or is it up from the basement? I don't know now--the sun is glinting in from the snow outside the tall, tall windows in sharp shards of light. Does that building even exist? Do I? Are you all right? Someone whispers and pats my shoulder. The work is finished. She's said this; not me. I nod and open my eyes as if I understood the words. As if I can grasp what they mean. As if, drowning as I am in the past, afloat with no bridge in sight, I care.
Christina Lovin is the author of A Stirring in the Dark, What We Burned for Warmth and Little Fires. A two-time Pushcart nominee and multi-award winner, her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Southern Women Writers named Lovin 2007 Emerging Poet. Having served as Writer-in-Residence at Devil’s Tower National Monument and the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Central Oregon, she served as inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Connemara, the NC home of the late poet Carl Sandburg. Lovin has been a resident fellow at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, Orcas Island Artsmith Residency at Kangaroo House, and Footpaths House to Creativity in the Azores. Her work has been supported with grants from Elizabeth George Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and Kentucky Arts Council. She resides with four dogs in a rural central Kentucky, where she is currently a lecturer at Eastern Kentucky University.