He reclines with back to the wall, upper body propped up on pillows, bottom (left) leg is straight with top (right) leg bent, foot draped against the side of opposite knee. The light shines from two directions, casting double shadows. One shadow huddled in the corner, hatching a plan, the other leaning in with a stern warning to adversaries. The hand is cupped against the forehead, still and comforting like a gentle pat on the head or a gesture of blessing or a freeze frame of a smack to the forehead in realization that he is wrong, or the start of raking his face while sorting thoughts.
There’s a divot in the wall the shape of mainland U.S.A. His knee is poised beneath it in a way that makes it seem as if he kneed the wall, leaving that engraved stamp behind.
His profile in silhouette towers over him, leaning in, as if whispering a secret in his right ear. He relays the message to a shadow on the left, whispering in circles like a game of telephone. The message convolutes more and more with each repetition. Mishearing, faulty memory, and human error impose themselves on phrases passed from one shadow to the next.
Arm raised high, fingers curled around a railing like a hook. The palm of his hand is hanging. A voluptuous curve like cleavage travels to a forearm and pointed elbow. Visible tendons stretch along the triceps to a bare underarm. He waits nonchalantly for something unknown. His eyes gaze down at the timer. How long must he stay in this pose? He’s in a fallen baby tree pose (sapling pose?) with one foot turned out, resting sideways on the other.
His calf muscle on the bent leg is defined, a duck egg protruding from the back of his skin.
The curve of the abdomen forming the flat edge of an inverted isosceles triangle, the sides pointing down to the intimate jest.
He’s stretched out on the bed, staring at the ceiling, eyes fixed on nothingness. He’s floating there – all shadows have vanished. What must it be like to have time to ponder problems and possibilities without shadows surrounding, following, nipping at your heels, leaning in, towering above. The angle of the elbow, the visible ribcage, the relaxed way the upper and lower eyelashes kiss with each blink. The barely perceptible rise and fall of the chest. The collarbones smiling beneath a flushed neck and a tendon rising to an ear like a tiny shell or the spiral of a fiddlehead fern.
End of Session.
Lisa L. Leibow says, “My work has been published or is forthcoming in Coe Review, CommuterLit, Courtship of Winds, Crack the Spine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, Entropy Magazine, Evening Street Review, Five on the Fifth, Folly, Griffin, The MacGuffin, Mulberry Fork, NoVA Bards, The Penmen Review, Pisgah Review, Red Rose, Rougarou, Sand Hill Review, Sandpiper, Sanskrit, and Umbrella Factory Magazine. My work has also been nominated for a 2022 Pushcart Prize. I earned my master’s in writing with a concentration in fiction from Johns Hopkins University, and I teach at George Washington University. I recently launched and co-founded an activism through storytelling arts movement with Julia Alvarez called The Scheherazade Project. I am a Faulkner-Wisdom Award novel finalist, a three-time merit-based grant recipient and resident at the Vermont Studio Center, and the winner of Pitchapalooza D.C. I have attended numerous conferences, including AWP, Algonkian Workshop, and the Writer’s Digest New York Conference, among others. In addition, I was a member of the planning committee for the Washington Writers Conference from 2017-2019.”