april 11th

By Laura Winnick
Volume 2//Prose

at some point into the beer-drenched night i realize just how many birthdays there are in april. all aries all around me: she of the ram-stubbornness, the first fire, the new terrain.

it’s late, the sun having already tilted around the earth. i’m talking to someone new about the most recent miranda july book we’ve both been reading. it’s possible this person is april-born too, they have that fierceness. the book is one that we both don’t want to read quickly but are anyway: ingesting, ingesting, ingesting. i turn my face from conversation to campfire, overcome by the task of celebrating for so many of april’s days. how to tell each aries of their specific courage, to pinpoint their honesty? i consider cards, what gifts to gift. how much gesture makes a moving gesture?

on this 11th day of the month, i do not know why there are so many aprils in my life, and want to ask that of the stranger next to me. but the day’s beer has settled on my tongue, now too thick to form inquiry. i’m asking, i think, about signs and the zodiac, about alignment and attraction. the person who might be aries has just volunteered us for a drinking game, moving closer on the bench, reaching out through the haze of my inner thoughts. “yes,” i say, dense unmoving tongue, “yes i’d like to play.” the day’s thoughts a cumbersome mess of intimacies, a pile of misses and near-misses.

earlier that day on the softball field: “i prefer the contact of basketball,” a teammate said in passing, and i know what she means, each one of us a lone planet orbiting around one another, three bases apart, and the outfield still an outfield away. when one team moved off, the other team moved on, ships passing in the night. i played catcher, half-crouching, half-absent-minded. softball is a waiting game, basketball a moving one. still, something sexy on that patch of grass between two dense city streets and the shadow of a hospital building. she of the fluid elbows and skinny hips, she of the hand-rolled cigarettes and unwashed denim, she of the hat flopped over dulled shoulder-length hair. it was hard for me to tell who was on which team.

now this backyard smelling sweet afternoon sweat and fire burning, the day’s strikes still in our limbs. when i watch the two who used to be lovers, i watch for exchange: eye gaze, hip rotation, laughter. a wiffle-ball bat cutting empty air makes a swoosh sound, such surprising strangeness of near connection. in the darkness after sunset i can’t tell who is attracted to whom. i’m still wearing my afternoon spandex and bandanna, limbs askew. all cumbersome questions about who i would like to take home and sweet sweet crooning on the speakers and the day a victory despite so much loss.

at the end of the night, picking out a clump of dirt from the bottom of my beer can, i suddenly remember my horoscope from  march: new moon means new start, the time to release the negative that’s been haunting you.

but suddenly it’s not march anymore, it’s not march at all.