Jefferson County I can’t get a hold of the interior or the coast, each slips out of sight the moment I arrive. This is Texas. This is Louisiana. This is a town in each. The water is not drinkable today. We do not drink it. We drive to the next town and the horizon glows orange with a day that is always setting far away. The families eat gumbo and remoulade and nurse on long-necked bottles. Young couples are seated with their backs against the wall. They are on a date. It is a certain date. They stock the shelves near the doors with novelty items—a broken marriage, a bouncing ball, toothpicks. The journey back home is forever. Chemical lights creep along the coast. They see how God made us. They make God in us. Christmas is also forever. It smells like creation, like hard asphalt and headlights pointed the wrong direction.
-- Michael Carson's work has appeared in Numéro Cinq, The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War, and Beyond Their Limits of Longing: Contemporary Writers and Veterans on the Lingering Stories of WW 1. He deployed to Mosul, Iraq with the U.S. Army in 2006 and now teaches at a community college in Baytown, Texas. He spends his free time admiring Bruegel's painted birds.