A year ago we were on the rocks and over
iced whiskey at midnight we made a resolution to stick
together into the future. But we didn’t
look to the future—we started looking to the past,
back through the history of our shared lives,
all the fights and the sex and the candlelight
dinners and the flirting and the uncertainty—how
would this ever work out? We looked back
through the history of our respective families—
all the divorces, all the long miserable great-
grandparents, all the separations beyond trial.
On one side, three suicides; on the other an old murder,
strychnine in a bowl of soup. We looked back
through the history of our respective hometowns
(treaties broken, feuds through generations), back
through the histories of our ancestors
(trade agreements violated, an assassination,
two accounts of piracy, or privateering, depending
on which side you took—about which we argued
for days—and more civil wars than we could count).
And finally, back through the history of words.
“Love” comes from the German
for joy and the Dutch for praise, but
in tennis it comes from the French for egg,
as in goose-egg,
as in zero. That empty shape,
hollow as a spent shell.
For most of its history “sex” wasn’t
about love or even fucking—it was just
a way to keep the genders apart,
something about a Latin
word for dividing—
cutting in half.
“Happiness” comes from hap,
meaning chance or fortune—
good luck with that.
And “resolution,” it turns out,
is really just about the math, not
a promise at all but “a breaking
into parts.” So tonight, fresh
whiskey and the bells chiming,
Samual Snoek-Brown is the author of There Is No Other Way to Worship Them and Hagridden. He also works as production editor for Jersey Devil Press, and he lives online at snoekbrown.com. His work has appeared in Creative Colloquy, Timberline Review, Eunoia Review, Red Fez, and others. He lives in Tacoma and teaches at Pierce College.