I Still Love You From the Other Side of This Bottle of Whiskey by Andrew Bertaina

August 30, 2015

Hello Darling,

The water sways with the rhythm I’ve seen in the hips of women. Though there is a chance that I am just profoundly drunk as the room is also spinning, counter-clockwise, against my wishes. “If you’re to spin, spin clockwise,” but the room, like you, doesn’t listen well. In the event that you are reading this letter sitting down, I advise you to stand up. In the event that you are reading this letter standing up, I’d advise you to sit down. In the event that you are reading this letter I’d advise you to get properly soused first as the best parts were written under the influence of alcohol. In truth, I recommend drinking for all occasions, but at the very least, get properly inebriated for this one.

Though we’ve known each other but a short time: shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, the contrails of a falling star? I would, if it would please you, make love to you under in either circumstance; summer’s day or an evening sky scarred by light. I am giving in this way, a fact which I’m continually reminding people of. This morning I walked down a path strewn with russet leaves, through oaks, pine and aspen and down to the lake. The water was reflecting a deep white pocket of clouds, made whiter by the contrast against so much blue.

Remember when we talked that evening about missing geography—the mountains and valleys we’d left thousands of miles away? There is an empty space in me that I forget about until I think of those cavernous western skies, the dark silhouettes of mountain ranges, the snaking of a river through valleys. I still love you from the other side of this bottle of whiskey, but that’s not what I wanted to say. Everyone, I’d like to believe, is in love with someone.

Here is what I realized, sitting at the base of pine, while somewhere in the distance a woodpecker hammered away with the kind of intensity that I wish I felt for anything, the sky has its own geography. A large pile of cumulus is rimmed in gold. Beneath that, cirrus turn purple and the sky above them is blush of rose. The geography of the clouds, I now see, is similar to that which I’ve left behind. It has its own internal beauty that combines ephemerality with eternality. This is precisely the sort of thing that I’d say to you when I was drunk. The sort of things you’d laugh off, sitting back in the rocking chair, curling your lips, creating, then blowing smoke out of existence.

Andrew Bertaina is currently living and working in Washington, DC where he obtained an MFA in creative writing from American University. His work has appeared in The Broadkill Review, OxMag, Big Lucks, The Wilderness House Literary Review and Fiction Southeast. He is currently a reader and feature writer for Fiction Southeast.