Allman, Jr.

Tenuous

James E. Allman, Jr.

It’s a bit like a teeter, son, with no totter, but more of what we are talking about here, a stretching
between two sides. Ridiculous,

I’m sure, but let’s pretend, as in prætendere, to stretch forth, or præ- as in before the stretch, which, in
our case, could be with a stick around a spent fire pit, or on a short walk around the block, just the two of
us—

teneo, tenere, tenui, tentus, the same root which brings to us soft/tender, as well as to hold/to take. And
what’s more appropriate to father and son than to take you in my arms to hold you, to take your tender
frame, tendere, to stretch it?

We might call this growing up, kid, but you’ll probably come to know it better through its Proto-Indo-European as reig- where comes riag and rack—a form of torture, admittedly of a kind which involves
stretching—a reach. Or a stretch.

For now, let’s say it’s only your eyes that need

lengthening. “Look at the sky.” Lift up your eyes at what’s passing by—bye and bye—in a pressurized
cabin and reckon, ræcan. Lift your eyes like airfoils.

It’s as good as metaphysics to you,

as the distinction between Dasein and ousia

and all that matters. The dozen acorns you stuff your pockets with, or a collection of cicada skins. The branches piled and sorted in a red, rusted wagon. Squirrels, and the sprint of squirrels. Toadstools, earthworms, unearthed ants.

And if ants, a chance to squat and watch them throng their eggs, marveling at the ones with wings so far underground.

Why won’t you reach

or, at least, rake the remnant ashes of last night’s fire into mountain peaks—tightrope the ridge of their spine, then traverse the thinning atmosphere all the way to the pocked cheek of the moon? Instead,

when you settle—making mounds, tents,

hovels—pronounce rather insistently, “It’s for the meerkats.” Or groundhogs. Or some other animal
which burrows. Odd,

I know, how you always totter down, never stretching your wings—unaware of wings. Ridiculous

how I reminisce, teetering again on this seesaw, see-saw—on this ci-ça—thinly veiled,

as this, or that.

James E. Allman, Jr. credentials—degrees in biology and business—qualify him for an altogether different trade. However, he easily tires of the dissected and austerely economized. He is a dabbler with an expensive photography -habit and a poetry -dependency. Nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, his work appears, or is forthcoming, in Black Warrior Review, Los Angeles Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review,  and Third Coast, among others.  He’s written reviews for Rattle as well as other journals, blogs, and sundries and is the co-founder of an artist community called Continuum. Find him on Twitter @jallmanjr and on Facebook.

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