Saturday, 25 June 2016

Stay by Kate Sheeran Swed

What if I go to work in the dark so we can have dinner together at noon?

What if I call you as I walk in the door? We could each set our phones on the counter, and maybe even cook the same dish. I’ll say things like “chop the onions in smaller pieces” and you’ll say things like “the water isn’t boiling yet” and it will be just like you’re here and I’m there. And then we’ll also learn what running water and scorching oil sound like from five thousand miles away. Which could be useful information one day if the FBI can’t figure out the background sounds they hear in a wiretap conversation. They’ll call in the Food Sounds Experts, and that will be us. They’ll play the tape and ask “Food or fuse?” and we’ll say “Food, definitely, broccoli steaming. Or maybe cauliflower, because they are difficult to distinguish by sound.” But in order to be experts we should really also study what pots and pans and potatoes peeling, ice cube trays and glasses breaking, fresh cut herbs and garlic pressing, yeast failing, cheese grating, soufflĂ©s deflating, and pickles all sound like from five thousand miles away, just in case. So they’ll need us to cook like this every day, for practice.

What if we eat together, too? I can set a place for you and you can set one for me.

What if we take a walk after dinner? I’ll say “the moon is beautiful” even though the sun is shining, and you’ll say “it’s chilly” and I’ll offer you my coat so we can laugh, but we can’t say why we’re laughing because then we might cry instead.

What if I buy special dark curtains? We can lay next to each other through your night and talk about things that matter, like sewing buttons and washing the car and breathing, and riding the bus and Rousseau, and why we exist and applesauce, and if God exists and Peru, and baseball, and cinnamon, and us.

What if together our breathing slows down and we dream over the phone? There’s plenty of space for dreams to live in a distance like five thousand miles.

What if we each wake up to the other’s alarm? We could be experts in oatmeal and coffee and cereal sounds, brushing teeth and shower sounds, feeding the dog and where-are-my-keys sounds. We’d only hang up as we leave for the day, as I leave in the dark so we can have dinner together at noon.

Or what if, instead, you stay?


  1. Glad to see you leading the charge! Nice work, Kate!

  2. This is gorgeous, Kate. The particular details are unique and familiar. I love all of it. -April

  3. Oh, Kate. This is beautiful. Your language is beautiful. I love everything about this!!!

  4. Oh, Kate. This is beautiful. Your language is beautiful. I love everything about this!!!

  5. I'm in love with this. Love the "Food Sounds Experts" and ADORE that last line. Took my breath away.


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