Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Art by Vicky Wang, staff artist

Walking to my car from the grocery store

I stepped over a stranger’s shadow,

looked at where its eyes should have been and felt

a familiar tug

a passing greeting from a friend

a nod in the hallway, maybe

a muttered “how are you”

strangely familiar for the cast shape of a body

that wasn’t even mine

-- that’s the thing with shadows, though

they are as much ours as they are not:

funhouse mirror puddles of gray behind us

beside us

before us

unrecognizable even to their source

(Have you ever jumped at your own image on the wall?)

Reminder: even the molecular certainty of our own bodies is malleable,

see: spilled and distorted on the asphalt

It is easier to know them for a second:

A single image of heather limbs

Mocking strides over curbs and shopping carts

Familiar because it does not have to bear my resemblance

(When I see my shadow I feel the need to test its motions,

raise my hand as though it might not be mine)

Even as I type this, my shadow sits beneath me,

hazy hands hovering over the keys, we link fingertips with each keystroke

still it seems foreign --

Too flat to move like I do

Too lifeless to hold me within it

Almost a mockery: “look how simple I can make you”

so between two silhouettes, I choose to befriend the simpler shade

a child of angle and sunlight, fruit fly lifespan

maybe in this moment I know that woman’s shadow better than she does

and somehow, that makes up for

all that I will never know

and the dissonance between myself and

the sun starved spot trailing at my heels




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