Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts
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The Difference Between Two Readings

by Howie Faerstein


Between the time I first climbed the Parabolic Dunes and the next

the world shifted but because blue-white Vega remains constant

I can make my way home. Because of the gap between who I think I am

and who I very well may be, the difference between two readings may resemble


the variance between three love affairs, a disparity between soundings

or why I devoured that novel when I didn’t know better but now can’t get past

the first chapter. It may be because of how Earth stumbles around our sun

that I impersonated the promise of myself and became who I am today


or perhaps I was more who I am then, than I am now. Back when I was thirty,

my child no taller than the dog, (both of them scratching at the cottage screen door), I

was married to a life. Twenty years later, realizing how much luck afforded me,

walking arm in arm to the sandbar and back chanting


Chequesett Neck Chequesett Neck, I managed to retrace the steps covered by shifting

sand and outrace the incoming tide. And today, even as the dunes gather and disperse,

sharing with another mysteries of April, finding yellowlegs still congregating

at the marsh, the vastness of my true identity–


beyond the interior fiction,

beyond the duress of illusion and the allure of the other,

or whether or not the novel’s protagonist was switched at birth–

becomes clearer.


Because the river continues to crash from the spillway, the rush of that river lights up

the town and the snag jutting from distant rocks is clearly an eagle,

because there is wailing at the same time there is laughter I know,

am certain that the difference between two readings is day and night.