03:17, August 19th, 2096 – Bracklinn Williams

my first night out West

all around Jackson six million acres of grass and juniper and houses were burning

the mountains kept the fire out but not the smoke

so the sky wore a fur coat of brown ash

back in Ocean City we had slept

over the flooded streets and under a sky of methane dark yellow like leather

with no stars, we wished upon falling satellites

and night after night i wished for Aster

who was alive then.

before i knew to wish that the sickles in their veins would swim ceaselessly like sharks

i just wished to trace their ribs with my fingertips

to feel their teeth against my collarbone

and i must have picked the right satellite

since one night beneath that yellow sky i learned the touch of their skin

the sound of their breath

my heart still bled like tar back then

and so when Aster moved to Jackson i followed

the second night we didn’t even bother to look up

and perhaps it would have been the same all summer

but the evening of the eleventh day it rained

Aster loved rain

and for that night i did too

and as the water stole smoke from the sky and dragged black soil screaming to the sea

we watched

falling asleep against the window

against each other

when i woke it was still dark

but the storm was broken

the sky shorn of its fur and skinned of its leather

so the raw flesh of night bled through

today in silence i would cup hands around such a treasure and keep it for myself

but that night was back before my heart ran out of blood

and before Aster’s filled with too much of it

so when i looked up the person i was and no longer recognize

thought first of someone else

Aster, Aster, i whispered, shaking them

Look at all the diamonds.