I keep my eyes to myself when I walk. This means I don’t make eye contact with people on the street. It’s not that I don’t want to see them. I just don’t want to be seen. This practice has become effortless. One foot in front of the other, eyes directly ahead or pretending to be dreamily focused on the clouds or the foliage.

But sometimes I catch a tanned and tattooed tricep in my peripheral vision and try my best not to look at the creature it is attached to. It happens in the gym all the time. I don’t look because I only want to imagine this body I used to know so many years ago attached to this extremity I can barely see. During those moments when my gaze at myself in the mirror is infiltrated by the tattooed tricep carrying gym creature I am expecting a specific mouth on its face but it’s not there. I would know if it was there because I can’t forget the slightly crooked teeth encased by those never chapped (not even in winter) lips. My imagination, that mechanism that functions so smoothly, gears turning and turning to produce exactly what warms my belly, screeches and stutters and stops.

I am always thirsty so I drink my water. It flows down my throat and extinguishes whatever smoldering is left in my gut. It is so cold here.

I leave the gym as a group of tennis rackets are entering. That’s what the figures look like in my peripheral vision. I’m back to not making eye contact. I look at the clouds instead. Dreamily. They are not beautiful. They’re just clouds.

It is so cold everywhere.

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