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From a basement outside the city, I hoist my torso up through the tiny window leading to the driveway, burrow under a fence and wrap my fingers tight around the neighbor’s yellow Schwinn bicycle. I’m visiting relatives who don’t understand the need for solitude. So it’s come to this.

Doing the back roads on the wrong bike, you feel every jolt in your hands as though performing a crab-crawl or wheelbarrow-walk. Dust and sweat cools arms and legs and forms a thin layer of grit. You begin to smell of water ensnared in a garden-hose. This is what I do each night, ferociously, and then calmed. I’m doing the training on how to be alone, how to demand more.  I’ve learned how to breathe so that details I’ve never noticed develop before my eyes. Green billows from the dirt. Stretches of asphalt expand as though tufts of volcanic ash, dissolve as though frothy sea-foam.

When the temptation of loneliness hits, turn off the road and look for a scooped-out tree. Wedge your body into its cavern and listen. Such sealed sounds seem somewhere between closing the linen closet’s door in over you, and of sitting in an airplane at take-off while pressing down firmly on the soft flaps over your earlobes.


Colleen Maynard is a Kansas City-based, to-be-Illinois based poet and visual artist. Her art-writing has previously been published in such places as the Australian-based Ceramic Art and Perception.  She is currently working on a chapbook containing prose and drawings.

Read more stories by Colleen Maynard


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