Observer/Inhabitant

 “Perhaps I’m simply better suited to be observer than inhabitant.”

This line I find, just a scrap of paragraph in a folder, written years ago in an essay for a poetry class. Except tonight, I don’t think it’s about poetry at all.

This week there’s five interviews, two of them second ones, and still, no job offers. It’s not personal, I tell myself. Except that it is. I’m overqualified for these positions. One interviewer even points out this fact in the first of our two interviews. I could easily do the work. But maybe what I can’t do is connect. Not with them, not also with the people I most want to.

 “Perhaps I’m simply better suited to be observer than inhabitant.”

When I write this line there’s no baby because I’ve lost it. It’s just a photo then, a rectangle of black and white shoved in the back of a closet. That winter, I can’t stop writing about the cold, all the shapes of it, the way it wound inside me, the geometry of snow, the days it sparkled and shone and the days it just ached, can’t stop writing too about the Snow Queen, when the boy climbed aboard her sled, when the girl followed them to the ends of the earth, when she gave up everything just to get him back. For years to come, I’m that dumb girl dreaming. What wouldn’t I give to have them back? To have them all back?

“Perhaps I’m simply better suited to be observer than inhabitant.”

This winter as with every winter, I’m re-reading yet again the book. The boy crouches on the cover, the wind blowing his hair to the side, all of him tinted cold, tinged with blue. It’s the first winter I think I’m not the girl. The first winter there are lines I draw and places I won’t follow.

Who am I then, if not her? The Queen? See how, in chapter 8, she studies the volcano from afar, its nature not akin to hers, those black firepots puffing their ash, their lava, steadily down the mountain. She doesn’t try to change it, nor stop it, nor follow it.

And when the boy too leaves her, to go back to the garden with the girl, her cheeks like roses, she will not stop nor follow him.

In fact, the story will not tell us of her again at all. Not if Queen had been angry. Not if she had wept. Not if she had spent nights unsleeping while the snow, white, swarmed like bees.

Not if she had wished, or if she still wished, that with him, in even the tiniest corner of his heart, she not been only observer but also inhabitant.

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