Return to Permafrost 41.2

Washed

by Sara Brown


In a few months, laying poolside in Naples in hard suns is lost. Collecting warning freckles and sunburn we pretended we were immune to, 64 alligators and their scales of prism light sunning themselves in irrigation rivers off Pine Ridge highway with the tall tickless grass and marsh, traversing an Indian reserve boardwalk winding through Everglades territory, cautious of sharp turns hidden by low palm trees where panthers have been caught panting and huffing in shade air: in a few months, like a ripped $5, you forget to take these out of your jeans back pocket before throwing them into the wash.  

We steal air plants off thick tree trunks and smuggle them in pockets of our carry-ons. They die in your bathroom in March, dissatisfied with the humidity of an every-other-day shower cycle.  

Shattered shells and splintered crab claws burn winter feet on white-sanded beaches along the Gulf of Mexico; I watch you march into the coldsnap water and cut the underbelly of your toe on a barnacle. Squatting to throw starfish back into premature waves whether they like it or not. You’d be surprised to find the soggy remnants of you being so determined to reach the part of beach face that curved out into the sharp green Gulf.  

I know I forced the bike rides we took down to the Racetrak gas station for frozen yogurt when Marco’s Island seemed too long a drive in the dark. The meticulous conversations at dusk sitting out on the driveway and waving at cars slowing down before the speed bump and loving the way the earth showed its water as we pushed our feet into the red ant-infested grass.  

But the expected reminiscing in Goodland before river sunset and potluck dinner, that hurt most sitting on, between your butt bone and weathered wood, legs growing numb dangling over rippling water, great blue herons and brown pelicans as audience members along with the occasional jumping fish spraying reminders to flip everything inside out to make sure you haven’t left anything untended to.  

We said we would live there for sure-there being anywhere other than where we met.  

You want to throw that away too, but it’s important to you, deep down in the pockets of it all.  


Sara Brown grew up in the rural farmlands and on the coast of South Jersey. She received her BA in literature from Stockton University in December 2018.  She has been published in Into the Void, Midwestern Gothic, Camas, Tiny Leaf, The Raw Art Review, and Toho Journal.