Fiction: Conception: Contact/Absence


 Conception                                                                                               Contact/Absence
Radoszyn, Volhynia 1906
                                                                         Athens, Ohio 2010


This much we knew from the start – forever was

The first time I understood what losing you might mean

not a possibility. And still I let you meet me in the

was that day on the bike path when the gray-haired man

evenings, still I walked slowly to make sure you

stepped in front of us and asked for help rescuing a woman

wouldn’t miss my progress to the barn. Some

from the river. You were too much yourself to say no, and I

nights you risked my father’s notice to catch me

too much myself to voice my fear that this was a trap. We

before I reached the end of the dirt path, taking

stopped, kickstanding our bikes just off the path. The man

the metal pails from my hands and stacking them

said she’s down this way and you nodded and turned back

on your shoulder. I wonder now, sometimes, what

to me and said you should stay with the bikes. Later, you

we must have looked like in silhouette, walking

would tell me how you’d been thinking hard at me stay up

together through the wide front door.

there as you followed the man through the brush and trees
and down to the river.


I was content to have you sit nearby as I milked,

I paced in the grass, straining for your voice, for any sound

the swollen udders warm in my hands. My own

I could trace back to your body, until the fact that I couldn’t

body curved forward, arms and shoulders washed

see or hear you weighed heavier than the possibility of the

in the neutral heat of the heifer, the grass she’d

bicycles being taken, heavier than the threat of being hurt

grazed in all day a top-note to the earthsmell of

myself. I moved past the first line of trees, stepped out

her sweat. And outside that pocket of energy, I

to where the land sloped down toward the river, where

felt you. Breathing. Waiting.

I could see you at the bottom, helping this stranger pull a
woman out of the water and onto the muddy bank.


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Jennifer M. Colatosti holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Ohio University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, where she teaches literature and writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The MacGuffin and Southeast Review, among others.