In the Shape of by Matthew Fogarty

That day it was cloudy and there was a grinding noise of gears coming off the clouds muscling into and out of each other, gears like on a car or a freight train but like they’d been winter-rusted. It’d been wet: cold and icy. And there’d been snow that fell for months and collected into white drifts made into mountains by snowplows that rutted through our neighborhood. Just when it seemed the snow would reach to the clouds, scrape the bottoms of them, there was the big melt of spring, rivers of water rushing down snow mountains like villagers fleeing ash. Rain came, too. First we could see the clouds were heavy with it, holding it in by their grooves and swoops and swirls. But they couldn’t hold it forever and eventually they gave way.

And I wonder if that’s how it happened, those months of the mountains of snow, which to the clouds must have looked awful familiar. Like they held the snow once but never thought of it in that way and then looking down at the great piles of it, like looking into a mirror, like they’d let pieces of themselves fall without realizing. That the snow rose so high it almost came back: it must have been heartbreaking. The way sometimes you fill up with tears, but you dam them. And the new-formed lake of it all erodes your insides, corrodes, rusts, until you can’t well it any longer. This must’ve been the clouds, all rusty and worn out and just trying to keep doing their job, trying to keep the sky working like nothing’s wrong even though we all could hear different.

It was loud that day and most every day until summer came and then the clouds were gone and there was the sun and the road crews out fixing potholes with their orange barrels and their trucks of hot cement and tar, fixing up the streets while it was warm, before the next winter, before the clouds came back and it started snowing again.

Matthew Fogarty was born and raised in the square-mile suburbs of Detroit. He currently lives and writes in Columbia, where he is fiction editor of Yemassee. He also edits Cartagena, a literary journal. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Passages North, PANK, 14 Hills, Smokelong Quarterly, and Midwestern Gothic. He can be found at

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