Curvature and Tilt

By Mary Evans

Afternoon light comes low through my windows. Winter-pale sunshine slants into the far corners of my bedroom, where it finds no dust. I know dust has collected in those corners, but afternoon sun only lights beautiful things. It rakes across a cream-colored quilts stitches and their shadows. It is confused by the rippled silvering of an antique mirror.

The sky is dark where my lover is. I know this, because he has just told me. His words, made into waves, bounced from tower to tower for many miles, finding me in a way I don’t understand.

His sun has already slipped behind the earth’s curve. Is the moon rising above it?

When my sun has dropped below this horizon, I will see which bodies rise. The moon, if the phase is right. A planet, maybe two, white as the snowbanks outside my window.

The phone sings again. My firstborn says he’s stacking landscape rock as we talk, and I want to fly a thousand miles to put mittens between his hands and the cold stones. His hands were so small when I first saw them. He shouldn’t take them outside in November.

“Is the sun still up where you are?” I ask him this because I need to orient myself. Are we on the same side of the line between day and night? I hope we are.

He says his sun is still beating down on his back, and its heat has made his afternoon’s yardwork a sweaty ordeal. Before sundown, he needs to move another wheelbarrow full of rock.

This orients me. I can close my eyes and see the globe. He and I are on the same side of the terminator that divides night from day, but he is far down its curve, near the bulge of the equator. He is in a place where people sweat instead of shivering.

Here, I am suffering from the earth’s cold tilt. It shortens my days and lengthens my nights. My sun is too weak to beat down on anything. I think it is holding its breath until winter passes.

In Arizona, where my daughter is, the sun will be beating down for hours yet.

In Germany, where my other daughter is, it is tomorrow.



MARY ANNA EVANS is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing. Her work has appeared in or will soon appear in publications including The AtlanticBayouFeminist Studies, and Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. Her crime fiction has received recognition including the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Mississippi Author Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. She holds an MFA from Rutgers-Camden and she is a licensed professional engineer.

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