A Solemn Vow and Promise

by Abigail Jennings

When you and I were young, you introduced me to divorce. A photo of a man in a red and blue windbreaker standing in a dead-leaf forest.
You and I would climb over the fence, tiptoeing through the briars to be kind to the threads of our t-shirts. Your mother worried during hunting season. She would have preferred we stick to the dead-leaf trampoline, but we wanted at least wild onions. So to the Pasture we went, ears sharp for gunfire. Sometimes our older brothers would come back with ammo shells, but you and I didn’t look much at the ground. We spent more time slicing our hands on tight twine, as we scaled massive bales of hay, glowing gold at the edges in a rich afternoon sun. Our ascent would leave the dogs swimming around on the Pasture ground below.
I remember paint. A puppy in a box, named for a gas station. Car accident. Striped pants. Your great-aunt called us Red and Black, even though everyone before that had considered my hair brown. We were small and smiled.

There was a gap.

You and I met again with old souls. We were entirely different people—you with substance, I with doubts and shadows. I can point to where this era began—I was only writing in red ink. Maybe you saved me—by giving and asking—blogs and Perks and rings and prisms; fathers and God and art and almost smiles.
I grew to love and depend on you. In a great kindness, you once brought the rain back from your vacation. And you grew to love me, too, as a poetic project of yours, in a telephone-smell sketchbook. I did my best when you were in Deep Trouble, though it was out of my experience. I defended your questions. You were once a world of mine. We ran bridges together.

And we broke a solemn vow and promise.
Now you’re just another young person who cries to music, falls asleep on the phone, drives fast, drinks. Maybe your cigarettes are still hidden in an empty playing card box, like the one I once brought you a letter and feather and Roman pin inside of. I’m changed again. Entirely different. I’m amazed that you treat me young. You were born eleven days ahead. I’m ancient. I lean into me. You should see.

Sometimes I wear your rings. Heavily. You’re mostly wedged into my mp3 files, and a few fond figures of speech. I remember you with holiness. You are the time my life began to change. Maybe someday we’ll climb back into the Pasture, but it won’t be the same when we’re taller than the haystacks.

Photo by Evelyn Stetzer