Alyse Knorr

"One cannot get around the assumption of reality, if only one is honest."
-- Albert Einstein, personal letter, 1950 

When I kiss you against the kitchen sink, the universe splits in half to accommodate it. This has always been an outcome.

We move to Ghana for a summer and help the Peace Corps de-worm orphans. When we make love on the dirt-floor cots it is always to the ping of rain on the tin roof, and when the wet season ends, you say you miss that. Back in the States, I take a teaching job and one of the photos you took in Africa on your manual wins a contest. At our wedding we both wear white dresses. We name our daughter Amelia, and she has green eyes.

Some nights you look out the window and ask if you are alive or dead and the cicadas answer: both. Because all that is possible, is. Because this is the end of the world-line. The place of collapse.


I imagine you hearing Donizetti the moment the car hits you; perhaps the smell of rain fills your nose upon impact.
"Sixth leading preventable cause of death in America."

I read Whitman at the wake. Avoid euphemisms.
"A child's capacity to understand death will vary according to her age."

The swell: i palpiti, i palpiti sentir.
"Her body has stopped working. The doctors could not fix it."

Si può, Si, può morir. Si può morir d'amor.



You ride the subway to Manhattan in the morning and take a cab back in the evening. This is to avoid muggings, you write to me, and because by five o'clock your feet ache from your $12 plastic pumps. Also, a high profile group of seeing eye dogs recently visited the Empire State Building. Also, the cabs in Astoria are black and not yellow.

In Atlanta, I walk in the morning and walk in the evening, counting down street names and passing Thai restaurants and delis, the Vortex Bar and the gaping white skull of its entrance. I pass our old complex, cluster of bricks and beams and glass. They have built a strip mall around it with several jewelry shops and a food court.


Another shooting to cover in Cobb County: attempted robbery at a Mrs. Winner's Chicken restaurant.

The pressure of your hips against mine, my hands pressing your back against the wall:
these things are not ghosts but memories.

Three charged with aggravated assault and one Cobb teen dead at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.

How many different things can I feel on one flickering set of apartment complex stairs.

Sunlight glints off the yellow tape, the shattered glass on the asphalt.

Take out the photos that allow the most imagination. I sleep curled in a ball like a bullet,
back against the wall.


I imagine your new lover hearing you speak French in your sleep.

Tu es la meilleure choix, mais seulement parfois.

She asks you what it means and you say you cannot remember, but later, at the bathroom sink, you try the words out again. You like the way they feel, the way they look, in red lipstick.

For the rest of the day, you find yourself looking for your reflection in her pupils, trying to make a mirror, or a tunnel, out of her obsidian eyes.

Non, je ne peux pas souvenir.


After your brother drowns, you can sleep only in the car, so I drive you up and down 95, your head against the glass, seatbelt cradling your jawline. Usually by Stafford, I turn off the air conditioning to listen to your breathing. At home in our garage, you might say something like: "After enough time passes, you start to wonder if it really happened."

Years later, on a trip down to Georgia, you say that pine trees always remind you of him, though you can't remember why.


The bridesmaids at your wedding wear shades of blue and green and the carnations are also blue -- dyed a shallow ocean color that drips from several of the petals to the floor, and the bouquet in your hands is mostly blue hydrangea and the earrings that dangle just above the tiny hairs at the nape of your neck are also, of course, blue, and from my aisle seat I can see that we are all underwater and yet I am still breathing.


The texture of her hands mimics yours and so for the first few weeks, I wake most nights to be traveling with you. We are at a wedding. We are standing on the cliffs of Inis Mor, your hair shorn off and mine slapping my cheek in the cold wind. We are orbiting a small star.

I say these things to her and she tells me not to worry. That it is natural for the mind to go where it belongs. That the dead do not feel envy.


Cool black water of the Chattahoochee laps at our feet. The dog is upriver, chest deep and chasing lazy catfish. You lean into me and I kiss your collarbone and with your hand around my neck you ask, is this real. The sun dips below the treeline. The crickets and frogs begin.