Ethan Milner – Bodies in Parallax

Ethan Milner

Bodies in Parallax

At the bottom of the hill, a paved oasis—
            the pool surrounded by a hedgerow
                        of hawthorn, dense yet diaphanous.

On approach I’d peer through the mesh of brush
            to see figures and forms, outlines foreshadowed;
                        bodies revealed, in plain light, to be bodies.

I’d watch my cousin
            form his arms
                        into an arrowhead

and pierce the water’s skin,
            emerging from below to wrap
                        himself in the quiver of his towel.

I remember once kneeling at the deep end’s edge
            to watch my pliant reflection, the negative space
                        of shade clouding my likeness.

I could see myself in flux, as I was
            and could be: a boy poised to plummet
                        at the wind’s whim. I looked up at my family,

who aimed to protect me from the water’s
            other side. But the magnetism of drowning
                        drew me down into that vision—

I fell into my reflection and felt my image shatter
            as I plumbed the deep. I curled into myself
                        and careened like a galaxy in slow revolution.

On the water’s current I heard the crash
            of my rescue, felt my cousin’s steel arm
                        hook around me, reel me to safety.

I knew I’d fall before I fell, but I stayed and saw it through.
            I was not daring, but paralyzed, like a mirror
                        suspended facing nothing.

Someone said I was brave, others told me to say thank you.
            I felt the wrong things, or rather, felt only a sense
                        of bodies in parallax, fluid, and flooding.


Ethan Milner is a clinical social worker in Oregon, providing therapy and crisis intervention at a school for youth with special needs. His work has most recently appeared in The Ghost City Review,  and has been featured in The Offing, decomP, and other outlets. His writing on music is lost in the archives of

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