Fake palm fronds for our wedding on mars

by Matthew Dettmer

I got home Friday night with a bag of potato chips because the woman working at the gas station a third of the way home saw me lurching down the aisle with the shelves of wine and said “no booze for sale now” one thirty or two in the morning and maybe I had a look in my eye like any bottle might not make it home unscathed. 

I backed into a parking spot on the first floor of my building without an audible scratch and I left the chips in my kitchen and found a dusty bottle of sparkling wine and poured a few inches into a stemless glass and balanced it up two flights of stairs to the roof of my building. 

In April when the world was ending and the world was a wound that was raw and stung each time it was touched in that April when I was working nights at the hospital I would come up to the roof four or five in the morning and watch my breath turn to mist and blow it up at the sky and watch the city lights east of me and listen to the waves clack on the sand all of them together one big roar.

But now it’s July, the wounds we’re wearing are scabbed over and the air is heavy and still and wet with all the drops from the lake held suspended to inhale then sweat back out again and it’s clear enough I can still see stars up there and someone had put up these fake palm trees in plant pots three or four of them around the deck and I saw the silhouette of one against the city and I dialed *******’s number who is my only friend now from that time/place and with whom I was in love once and who loved me for a period of time a kind of chaste love that doesn’t fade like lust the kind that survives years and distance and even phones ringing in the middle of the night and I didn’t even know what I wanted to say I just knew I needed to call her so much that after voicemail the first time I hung up and pressed the number again and felt sweat starting to line the space between the cracked case and my ear.

Matthew Dettmer

What is the significance of this work to you?

This speaks a lot to the solitude and the loneliness that are so pervasive in the current climate. It's not an easy thing to write about, but something that I think is a really defining characteristic of the time we're living in.

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

I work a lot in this kind of form - I suppose it's a form of prose poetry. I like working in this form a lot because I think the stream of consciousness approach parallels how events unfold in real life. I also enjoy how the lack of punctuation allows a rhythm to build that can carry a reader through the piece.

What was your process for creating this work?

I have a very difficult time editing and revising, so I try to get the basic outline of a piece completed pretty quickly and then mold it from there.

Matthew Dettmer studied English Literature at Marquette University and then medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.  He is currently a practicing physician in Cleveland, OH.