Aaron Rodgers, Measured & Unmeasured

The Stories No One Sees

Illustration art of Aaron Rodgers celebrating a touchdown.

This is the fifth installment in a collection of essays called The Stories No One Sees. You can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four here.

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I grew up in a strict religious household and boy, did we have rules.

Most were small and easy to abide by. I’d pray before meals, wear ironed slacks on Sundays, and punch my crotch every time I thought about the opposite sex. Of all the rules, two weighed heavy upon my immortal soul. One, DO NOT TOUCH YOURSELF; and two, DO NOT WATCH TV ON SUNDAYS. I knew my ability to follow these two rules would determine my eternal fate, and I’m ashamed to admit the second I hit puberty, Satan opened his arms and I gave him one hell of an embrace. Now, I could entertain a world void of self pleasure (remember the crotch punching?), but I could not survive Sundays without my beloved Green Bay Packers and quarterback Brett Favre—especially not in 1997 as Green Bay was winning the Super Bowl and Favre was dashing around the Superdome like a deep fried lunatic.

The only problem was that my family had one television, it was in my parents room, and there was no way I could power up that JC Penny-brand box on a Sunday. My solution: I bought a portable, black-and-white television that weighed roughly 50 pounds, had a 5-inch screen and 3-foot bunny ears, with a manual dial for channel surfing. My room was in the basement, and autumn Sunday afternoons followed a precise pattern: fifteen minutes before gametime I’d place the television on my bed, situate myself for optimal viewing, and cover both TV and boy in blankets. This amounted to a cotton-covered cocoon with two metal antennas peeking out, ready to be snapped down at a moment’s notice.

I watched countless Favre touchdowns from the warmth of this enclave, stifling my yells to avoid detection. Even still, every so often the stairs to my room would creak. My response was lightning: television powered off, bunny ears retracted, and me, a teenage boy smiling nervously on his bed, body completely covered in excess sheets and hands nowhere to be found. One look at me and they would retreat IMMEDIATELY. I would congratulate myself for the deception (They think I’m breaking Rule One, but really I’m breaking Rule Two!) and resume watching Favre fling missiles. Under this guise, my Packers fandom flourished.

I spent the early 2000s undoing my masturbatory reputation. As it turns out, people don’t love the idea of a teenager drubbing himself day and night, so I set the record straight. “I’m just a Packers fan, not a 24/7 pervert,” I would tell anyone willing to listen, keeping my hands above my shoulders at all times—far, far away from the tantalizing whispers of the south. Family members were wary but were convinced over time, exchanging murmurs behind covered mouths: “It’s much weirder than we thought, he’s watching football on a portable television hidden in his bedding.” I bore this cross with equal parts shame and pride. I knew I was going to hell, but on the right Sunday—Favre ripping passes through pinhole openings, foam cheesehead wobbling on my head—it all seemed worth it.

And after reading Dante’s Inferno, I concluded the worst circle of Hell could be avoided by limiting Rule One desecration during football season. Imagine my surprise when I turned 18, left home, and found out watching television might not be a one-way ticket to Hell. I turned LOOSE. No rule was safe, not One, not Two, I even stopped punching my crotch at the echo of a woman’s name. The mid-2000s were glorious. I consumed Packers football like God had exchanged his crown for a cheesehead and blessed my Favre jersey with a smile, wave, and kiss. For roughly 15 years, from 1992 to 2007, no quarterback started a Packers game except Favre, and from a changing list of places—childhood home, college dorm room, small apartment—I watched every pass I could.  

In 2008 I was met with betrayal: Favre left Green Bay for New York. The nasty split fractured the Packers fan base in two. I was heartbroken and irate, and vowed to throw the full weight of my passion into defending Green Bay’s new starting quarterback: a third-year pro from Cal who plunged on draft day after being stamped as arrogant. In the brief span of one offseason, Aaron Rodgers became my guy.

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In his first season as starter, the Packers went 6-10. I wasn’t worried. There was ample playmaking scattered throughout the losses, strong indicators of a tantalizing future. 2009, the lightbulb flicked on. Rodgers threw for over 4400 yards, 8.2 yards per attempt (YPA), 30/7 TD/INT ratio, as the Packers improved to 11-5 and secured a wild card spot. Even a tragic overtime playoff loss to Arizona was a momentary blip on my emotional radar. The throws—MY GOD, THE THROWS—popped like a pig was trapped inside the pigskin and thrashing back to life. The arm talent was inconceivable. Whereas other quarterbacks at the time (Manning, Brady, Brees) were building legends on surgical precision, Rodgers performed open-heart surgery with a stick of dynamite.  

I moved into a house near the campus of Utah Valley University in 2010 and made my final, whimpering push towards a Bachelor’s Degree. I graduated with no money and a Taco Bell tab I couldn’t pay. Worst of all, living with my roommate's dog was quickly becoming untenable. I have no love for pets but even in the barren wasteland of my heart, this dog carved out a dark niche. It was a real piece of shit. It would jump on kitchen counters in fits of carnal rage, bark from sunup to sundown, cover every square inch of furniture in matted black hair, piss on the floor and play in it like some sort of twisted splash pad freak, and on the rare occasion it felt compelled to showcase the true extent of its powers, paint the walls with diarrhea. I must say this again because the experience still weighs on me: the dog was a real piece of shit.  

If you believe in the balanced nature of the universe, my 2010 would solidify that belief. My personal life was covered in dog doo doo, but my deep passion—the Packers and Aaron Rodgers—was anything but. Green Bay weathered injury and adversity to squeak into the playoffs, Rodgers torching the Giants to a crisp in a must-win Week 16 game, the defense suffocating Chicago in Week 17, diarrhea dog barking in the background as I jumped and shouted with joy. Rodgers and the Packers survived the following week in a wild card victory over Philly and Mike Vick, and this is where I officially stop making dog jokes.

To choose the finest performance of Aaron Rodgers career is to choose a favorite child, though gun to my head, the divisional round vs the #1 seed Atlanta Falcons is my pick. It was not a coming out party in the traditional sense, rather a moment of awakening: the beast fully arose from slumber, talent defying then exceeding expectation. Rodgers toyed with the Falcons defense. He evaded edge rushers with liquid ease, fired rockets brighter than the fluorescent indoor lights, a trickster from legends of old who honked defenders' noses, pulled bright silken kerchiefs from his trousers, and plucked footballs from behind the ears of children. His final numbers in a 48-21 Packers victory were immaculate (31/36, 366 yards, 3 TDs passing, 1 TD rushing, 0 turnovers), a performance so devastatingly revealing it felt blasphemous to try to quantify.

Green Bay defeated Chicago the following week in the NFC title game. The infinite expanse of future promise bloomed to present realization: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were headed to the Super Bowl. We invited friends over on February 6, 2011, Packers-Steelers for all the marbles. Dog hair, urine, and feces from the ceilings to the walls, a house filled with people more interested in the ingredients of seven-layer dip than the game. Not I. I sweated every throw, every timeout, every corn dick commercial with Pit Bull smugly drinking a Dr. Pepper while asses shook around him. I screamed at the seven-layer crowd for their rudeness, cursed every dog and Pit Bull in existence for their wild and sensual ways.

Everything tightened in the fourth. GB led by 3, 3rd and 10 from their own 25, 5:59 on the clock. Rodgers dropped back and released a pass to Greg Jennings that squeezed through an opening smaller than a football. It must be a trick! The pass and run netted 44 yards, the trickster saving his finest deception for the most opportune moment. A field goal, a defensive stand, the Packers jumping and yelping as Super Bowl champions. I howled at everyone in attendance. I slapped high fives with dip-stained hands. I ran outside to let the full moon bear witness to my pure, animalistic pleasure. It beamed in the sky as the dog tailed me, mimicking my shrieks at maximum volume. I forgave its insolence, turned my face upward, and smiled.

Perfection does not exist.

I cannot say this dawned on me during one brilliant, revelatory moment—no burst of sunlight through damp clouds. I can say this comprehension occurred in my teenage years—Satan grinning ear-to-ear as I indulged in NFL Sundays and treated my body like a playground, God silently weeping beneath his poster of soon-to-ascend Aaron Rodgers—and continues in present day. If perfection does not exist, asking for perfection from those around you is an unrealistic and unfair expectation. I am a flawed human, and I see this mirrored by others. We all treat our bodies like playgrounds. It’s not a big deal. Seriously. As soon as I found out everyone swings on the monkey bars and barfs on the merry-go-round, a great weight was lifted. These people are just like me! Relationships became deeper, richer, acknowledged flaws superseded by actual virtues. Love unfolded as I swung the monkey bars, in unison, with others. To know perfection did not exist enabled me to savor the things that do.  

With that in mind, a plan reliant upon perfection reveals a flaw in the architecture. Following their Super Bowl victory at the beginning of 2011, the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers were crowned as conquering kings. A road without limit beckoned. Expectations grew and settled into a dense, heavy mist. Rodgers claimed his first MVP award during the 2011 regular season, the finest season-long quarterback performance I have ever seen. I watched entire games where he would not miss a throw, whistling bombs 50 yards downfield and laser beams on 10-yard outs with equal precision. He casually eluded rabid, slobbering defenders and Discount-Double-Checked in their faces after touchdowns. The swagger spoke to a quarterback operating on a higher plane of existence, a Matrix-style transcendence where the simulation is solved by flashing green numbers and the hero can dance through oncoming bullets fired from 20 feet away.

If you paused time entering the playoffs in January 2012—Green Bay 15-1 and the #1 seed in the NFC, Rodgers the pulsating heart—I would have waxed poetic on the dangling lure of possibility. How life is a series of choices and uncontrollable events that, if played correctly, can take you to the moon and back again. That the stars are merely reflections of our desires, shining so brightly in the black I can reach skyward, feel their heat, and know the touch would burn. That the unfiltered sun is both a beacon of hope and capable of destroying worlds. I would have told you my heart contained that. All of that. I would have asked you to feel my chest as the opening kickoff to Packers-Giants left the tee with a soft whoosh. I would have guided your hand over the soft green cloth of my shirt, showed you how to trace the quickening beat of a vital organ that represents so much more than simple distribution of blood. And if you did that, all of that, you would understand possibility.

I held onto hope as long as I could. Even as Eli Manning completed a Hail Mary to Hakeem Nicks on the final play of the first half to put the Giants up 10. Even as the Packers fell down by 17 in the fourth after a Mario Manningham touchdown. I kept waiting for Rodgers to tear off his jersey like the Incredible Hulk and throw passes that pierced holes through the chests of defenders. It never happened. Green Bay lost 37-20 and though I didn’t know it at the time, the game signaled a shift. Over the following years a series of detrimental roster moves, injuries, and stale coaching pushed the onus squarely onto their quarterback’s shoulders. If Green Bay was to contend, there was no margin for error: Aaron Rodgers would need to be perfect.

To his credit, he did his damndest. Rodgers led the league in TD% and passer rating in 2012 behind a rickety offensive line that gave up a league-leading 51 sacks, dragging the Packers to an 11-5 record. Their season ended in a 45-31 loss to San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick, the Packers inability to identify or stop a zone read the gruesome stuff of legends. 2013, another playoff loss to the Niners. 2014, another regular season MVP for Rodgers, a playoff victory over Dallas that featured not only the infamous Dez Bryant catch-or-no-catch but Rodgers throwing one of my favorite passes of all time, a second half touchdown to Richard Rodgers that passed through the eye of a needle. The stage was set for an epic NFC title game: Green Bay on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

The Packers controlled play and were up 22-19 with 2:09 remaining. If they recover the onside kick, they go to the Super Bowl. I was watching beneath a horizontal Pink Floyd poster, six naked women painted in psychedelic flashes and bright images that reminded me of the moon, sun, and stars. I was overflowing with nervous energy, fully prepared for the worst to happen. It did. In an error that defines him into present day, Brandon Bostick mishandled the kick and Seattle recovered. Four plays, 50 yards, Marshawn Lynch scampered into the end zone with 1:25 left to take the lead. I was sick. Rodgers, playing the game with a calf injury sustained in Week 17, zipped Green Bay down the field, at one point hobbling down the sideline like the world’s most nimble yet tragic one-legged pirate. Mason Crosby forced overtime and I waited for the other shoe to drop.

It did. Seattle won the coin toss and Aaron Rodgers never saw the field. It took six plays for the Seahawks to cover 87 yards, the final thrust and twist of the knife a 35-yard rainbow from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. The entire city of Seattle exploded and I felt my heart do the same. I picked up my car keys and walked out the door. I don’t remember where I drove to, only that I drove. The vibration of the steering wheel, steady hum of the engine, the possibility of an open road.

Please remember that perfection does not exist.

The general discourse surrounding quarterbacks is a roar to drown out the entire world. Cavemen on television drag their knuckles and grunt that wins and losses are a quarterback stat—team success or failure and how it relates to the quarterback is viewed by many through this prism. If the team won, the quarterback played well. If they lost, he did not. Binary terms applied to a complex equation: a 53-man active roster, three phases (offense, defense, special teams) of the game, countless coaches and strategy decisions, countless interjections by the referees, weather ranging from static to inclement, fan noise, injuries, infinite ways an outcome can be altered by conscious action or simple twists of fate.

Because of the way we gravitate towards quarterbacks and bestow the powers of God upon them, we forget that Super Bowl-winning QBs are those placed in position to succeed by shrewd roster construction, coaching, and management. There are no exceptions to the rule. The list of Super Bowl participants follow this formula, impeccably crafted teams capable of lifting their quarterback on occasions he falters. As he inevitably will. Russell Wilson can throw four interceptions against Green Bay in the 2015 NFC title game and his team can still win. Tom Brady can throw three interceptions on three different occasions in the playoffs (2007 and 2008 vs SD, 2021 vs GB) and still win. Peyton Manning can be the worst starting quarterback in football in 2015, get benched for Brock Osweiler (!!!), throw 9 touchdowns against 17 interceptions on the season, and the Broncos can STILL win a Super Bowl. Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl. Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl. Nick Foles can win a Super Bowl. Brad Johnson can win a Super Bowl. Jared Goff, Jimmy Garrapolo, and Rex Grossman can come this close. All share a common thread, the law that must be followed: an established foundation requiring perfection of no one, framework built to withstand flaws of the individual.

From 2015-2018, Aaron Rodgers was asked to atone for the sins of his franchise. Life was slowly leaking out of the Packers via poor drafting, roster mismanagement, injuries, and the refusal of head coach Mike McCarthy to produce a game plan rooted in the 21st century. It was an era marked by a slow decline in win percentage, taken by many to signal a decline in the play of Rodgers. I was flabbergasted. What I saw was very different: Green Bay demanding perfection of Rodgers to stay afloat and more times than not, Rodgers answering. Win percentage is a reflection of situation, and in football—situation is everything. There are no exceptions to the rule, even for a quarterback I believe to be the best I’ve ever witnessed.

However, it was during this time I briefly believed perfection might exist. I was seduced by four Hail Marys thrown from the end of 2015 to the start of 2017, a stretch of time where Aaron Rodgers made the uncontrollable seem controllable.

The first was on a Thursday night against the Detroit Lions. The pass was so magical it seemed cut from a Disney movie. It wasn’t a heave though the pass traveled 70 yards in air. It exploded off his hand like the crack of a whip. It floated through the air, high and soft, like a benevolent being. I swear to you I thought the football was going to burst into a dove. It didn’t, instead nestling into the hands of Richard Rodgers for a game-winning touchdown. A month and a half later, Aaron Rodgers did the same thing against Arizona. TWICE. He took a play that maybe happens once in a career and did it multiple times IN THE SAME GAME. A playoff game! And then did it a year later in another playoff game against the Giants!

All the miracles in the Bible cannot hold a candle to this. I mean, feeding a bunch of people with five loaves of bread is just being a good baker—if the bread is dense and rich in nutrients, everybody gets a tiny chunk and leaves with a belly filled. Completing four Hail Marys in 13 months is the true miracle. I’m going to petition Random House about adding an extra book to the Bible because I think there’s a pretty good case to be made here. Book of Aaron, chapter one, verse one: And on the third day of December, for the first of four times, Aaron controlled the uncontrollable. Also don’t kill. Or sleep with others’ wives. Or lie. Just use common sense here so we can talk about these Hail Marys.    

Despite the boost of celestial miracles, Green Bay continued falling short. Playoff losses to the Cardinals and Falcons and a broken collarbone for Rodgers paved the way for two years of missing the playoffs entirely. Finally, after years of pleading, the Packers fired Mike McCarthy and banished him to an out-of-state Burger King. They hired an unknown coach with near-perfect hair and charged Matt Lafluer with creating a situation where perfection is demanded of no one, where even a miracle-working quarterback can periodically whiff on his breadmaking or dove-conjuring and still find success. Through two years and change, the hire has been a home run. Back-to-back 13-3 seasons and NFC title game appearances for the Packers, Rodgers resurrected into his previous MVP form.

This year, Green Bay sits on the short list of Super Bowl contenders. It does not mean they will win and in all likelihood they will not. Such is life in a cutthroat league where many teams are built for success, but every year only one team truly finds it. However, for the first time in a decade, Green Bay has built a team that can win in multiple ways. Scheme. Rushing. Defense. Ways that are not solely reliant on Aaron Rodgers being the alpha and omega, absolver of sins, the worker of miracles who for brief moments has caused me to ponder the divine.

The end does not define the journey, whether a moment, a game, a season, or a career.

January 16, 2016, Las Vegas, Nevada. The sun crested the eastern horizon as the moon leaked into the sky. The day was destined for perfection: three friends and myself, 36 holes of golf at Reflection Bay, a prime-time playoff game between Packers and Cardinals. We stepped onto the first tee as white mist lifted to reveal green pines, rays of pale yellow light bouncing off glassy water and returning to outer space. I breathed in the following eight hours of golf as I did the air itself, required sustenance to keep the heart beating and blood flowing, an involuntary reaction my body knew I needed to survive. One breath: a downhill par 3, Lake Las Vegas glittering on all sides, a golf ball compressed by iron in a sound so pure it did not disturb nature’s silence but instead became a part of it. Another breath: the sun high overhead, radiant and warm, my full concentration on the natural contours of the green, running my hand over miniscule blades of grass that yearn only for light, water, and air. And another breath: the par 5 eighteenth, our 36th hole of the day, a swelling in my heart as I watched the final putt tip into the hole and disappear, a soft reverberation of the ancient belief from the earth we came and to the earth we return.

That was perfect, I remarked as we zipped to the casino, placed our bets, ordered drinks, settled amongst dense cigar smoke and whirring slot machines as Aaron Rodgers appeared on the gigantic sportsbook screen. Green Bay was a 7-point underdog, decimated by injuries. I knew they had a vastly inferior team. And yet, despite my best instincts, despite the inner turmoil gripping every fan as unsuccessful seasons thread together and become a lifetime, I knew #12 under center grants certain things. Hope. Belief. Possibility. The combination of smoke and screaming eliminated my voice in one quarter. The casino swelled with patrons and noise. A cocktail glass shattered and no one turned their head. On stage, Rodgers was the puppet master. He danced. He flowed. He dictated the rhythm of the game so vividly I could feel the attached strings poked into players, coaches, myself, all leading back to him. The Packers were up going into the fourth. Arizona reseized the lead, the clock making its unstoppable march towards zero, my hope waxing and waning like the moon. Green Bay trailed by seven and I prepared for the inevitable.

The first hail mary occurred on fourth-and-20 from the Green Bay 4, 55 seconds remaining. Rodgers rolled left and unleashed a pass down the left sideline, high and powerful enough for me to imagine it disappearing into the stadium lights and never coming back, a worn traveler done with the chaos of this place and ready to explore a different planet. Instead it fell into the hands of Jeff Janis 60 yards later, the voltaic shock of life as seconds dwindled, a thrilling reminder that even for the right arm of Aaron Rodgers, what goes up must come down. The Packers had one play left from the Arizona 41. I’d seen this story a million times and I prepared for the demise. Rodgers dropped back, was pressured, contorted his body and fired as a defender rag dolled him to the ground, puppeteer reduced to puppet.

The clock struck zero. I held my breath. The shutter reel of my mind was clicking as the ball floated upwards. I wondered how it feels to move through the atmosphere with such grace, what it feels like, even for one second, to be the object of everyone’s desire. I wondered if the arc of travel feels like perfection or deflates with expectation. I wondered what happens when the pinnacle is reached and you are forced to return home. The ball falls. My eyes traced the descent as Jeff Janis again rose to meet it, sandwiched between two defenders, a welcome home committee for the one who dared travel to space.

He plucked the ball and hugged it to his chest as I exploded. The casino exploded. The stadium exploded. Cris Collinsworth, announcing the game on television, exploded: “That may be one of the great throws ever made! Moving to his left! Falling away! And launching a perfect throw!” I wanted to pause the moment and encase it in liquid amber. I wanted to hand it over with reverence, my granite proof of unmeasurable depths, to those cold scientists who believe laws govern all things, that there are no exceptions. But I could not. The moment was ending even as it began and the scientists were right—what goes up, must come down. The Packers lost the overtime coin toss and Aaron Rodgers never saw the field. It took Arizona three plays to cover 80 yards, Larry Fitzgerald delivering the death blow.

It is stunning how quickly ecstasy can be replaced by devastation.

I opened my phone and looked at his final line: 24/44, 261 yards, 2/1 TD/INT, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, Richard Rodgers, John Kuhn, James Starks, and Eddie Lacy, the only Packers pass catchers. I wished there was a way to properly convey the infinite distance between measurable and not. I wished to gather the world at my feet and show them how a game with such an unexceptional box score, that ended in shattering defeat, could offer such a clear window into the stunning career of Aaron Rodgers. How he was asked to move heaven and earth for his team to make the playoffs, then asked to do more upon arrival. How, contrary to the science of logic, an outcome could be measured as a loss and still evoke the aura of possibility.

The odds against us are endless,

our chances of being alive together

statistically non-existent;

still we have made it, alive in a time

where rationalists in square hats

and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses

agree it is almost over

-Lisel Mueller

There is beauty in the stories no one sees.

Not all statistics are created equal. I say this as a man with a deep, abiding love for numbers, balanced with understanding there are things that cannot be measured. A seven-yard pass on fourth-and-five, compared to a seven-yard pass on third-and-twenty—two identical numbers, two vastly different meanings. The rise of modeling and analytics has ushered in a greater understanding of numerical value, the ability to measure performance (DVOA, EPA, QBR) in a manner that better contextualizes situations, separating one seven-yard gain from the next. And yet inevitably, we arrive at that which cannot be measured.

I could select a variety of hard statistics that represent the career of Aaron Rodgers. Ten Pro Bowls. Five All-Pro teams. Three regular season MVPs. One Super Bowl MVP. Over 55,000 career passing yards, completed at a 65% clip. Over 3,300 career rushing yards and 34 TDs. A career passer rating (104.5) that my childhood self would describe as masturbatory, a career TD/INT ratio (449/93) that my adult self would describe as the same. Numbers spanning the last 17 years, all screaming the same thing: look, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

But this is not the essence of his career as I know it. Rodgers inhabits a space beyond quantification where football shimmers to art, an expression of self akin to Dylan’s lyrics and Steinbeck’s pen. The flick of a wrist, measured as 20 yards on the stat sheet but the story extends beyond: the cerebral understanding of the artist, matched through repetition by his wideout, that this particular coverage demands this particular throw; the breathtaking union of mental and physical, eyes drawing the safety to the middle of the field, body coiled and uncorked as energy flows from base to core to fingertips to ball; a throw that emits sound, white laces spinning in symmetrical revolutions, the unwavering brown nose of the football boring through wind and rain and noise; crowd volume rising, distant static crackling into full-throated roars; touchdown signaled by stoic men in striped shirts of black and white, by a jubilant sideline of coaches and players in green and gold; and me at home atop the electric current, watching everything unfold on a television manufactured on the opposite side of the world, depicting a game happening on the opposite side of the country, mimicking the universal sign for touchdown in a #12 jersey gifted to me by a woman I loved, arms lifted towards heaven in a gesture that in a different time and place could be interpreted as mercy.  

And still the story extends, past this play and this season, into the scope of almost two decades, the measured and unmeasured: the rise and set of the sun, one day passing to another, days to months, months to years, emotion exploding in brilliant chemical bursts and interpreted as love, millions (no, billions) of individual moments and memories captured as firing neurons in the brain, the friend who taught me to golf, the woman who scratched my back in the middle of night, the uncle who loaded a gun and discharged its contents against his own temple, the curl of a red leaf in autumn, the pebbled texture of an 8-iron grip, the warm air of summer nights alive and breathing and tightening screws in my chest, fingernails digging into my skin, my scalp, furrows scraped along my spine noticeable only at the molecular level, the flick of a quarterback’s wrist, the slow disintegration of all things, the interconnectedness of this, all this, sprawled like a fine silken web, statistically non-existent in a way that defies comprehension but is known by all, again and again and again.

(Editor: Rachel Swan) (Artwork: Allora Rameson)

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