circles, circles, circles, submit!
He is walking in circles. He is walking in circles around a woman and he is smiling. His smile is sharp-witted and happy. The woman is stopped at a bench; she is tying her shoe. Her shoe is small and white. While she ties he is walking in circles; he walks around the bench, and around the woman. She has blonde hair; it is stuffed into a tight ponytail. Her hair is very blonde; her legs are very tan. I can tell she walks a lot of circles, though I've never seen her here, at my circle, before today.

After the shoe is tied they walk the big circle, together. A man and a woman. Left, right, left, right, left. They are walking ahead of me, but I can hear them talking. They are talking in circles. He is explaining the rules she does not understand. It is a complicated sport. There is a net. There is a court. There is a fixed height and width. She is not listening. "The ball is round," he says, "like a solid circle." She is not listening, she is thinking of someone else. "Yes," she says. "Like a solid circle." He smiles. "Who were you thinking of," he asks. "No one," she says. "Don't be silly." She pokes him in the side. His mouth forms a small, perfect circle, like a silver dollar or the face of a watch. 

In the center of the big circle there is a park. The park is filled with green clovers and trees and three children who are running and playing. The children are loud; there are two boys and one girl. The boys are running in circles and screaming, one is very dark-skinned; the other is very light. "There is mold in some cheese," says the dark one. "Muskrats eat cattails," says the light one. They begin to chase the girl. Her hair is long and blonde; her neck is wet from sweat. She stops at the swings and hits the dark one in the arm. There is a clump of hair stuck to her forehead. There is one freckle on the center of her cheek and one at the top of the point of her lip. "You're not supposed to stop," says the light one. The girl pushes an empty swing, she is smiling; her smile is like a half-moon, or a round oatmeal cookie, bitten in half.

The mothers are watching the children run and play; the mothers are now sitting on the bench where the blonde woman stopped to tie her shoe just three circles before. The mothers talk loud, they are used to the children screaming. "He killed my cactus," says one. "You have to do something," says the other. "I know," says the first. When the woman passes, they look at her tan legs. They are not afraid to stare. The woman's walk is quick, her circles big and convincing. "There are rules," says one. "I know," says the other. The mothers did not walk many big circles tonight; their circles were small and slow, their circles were interposed with many hand gestures and sighs. 

The man and the woman finish their circles. The man stretches his leg on a bench by the water fountain. His legs are tight; he cannot straighten his knee. I can tell he does not walk many circles. He tells a joke but the woman does not laugh. He pokes her in the side; her mouth forms a straight line. A faded red Honda pulls into the parking lot, behind the wheel, another man. His radio is loud; he screams at the woman. "Terry," he shouts. "Terry." The woman looks away, rattles her keys. "Who is that," says the man. "No one," says the woman. They leave in a green SUV with large tires and shiny wheels. The mothers gather the boys and the girl runs into the woods toward a neighborhood where her name is being called. It is getting dark, the streetlights snap and buzz. The man in the faded Honda and I are alone; he sits and stares at the bugs as they begin to circle and dive. His radio is playing a song I like. My legs are sore and I have lost track of my circles. I begin to run, around and around, my hands in tight, round fists as I hum.

[Karen Ashburner does this.]

[Forever after at

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