Two Micros by Jared Povanda

The Idea of a Thing is Not the Thing Itself

This boy wants a cat for the idea of a cat. Real responsibility chokes him. This boy wants to embody the writer—navy sweater, gold chinos, salmon boat shoes, honey hair tousled, thick brown glasses, posing with the frothing sea at his back, black feline in cashmere arms. This boy would be charming and this boy would be coquettish and this boy wouldn’t be pathetic. This boy wouldn’t tip and fall forward into foam. He wouldn’t spend his days staring at the ceiling, counting knots in the wood, wondering, sinking inward, considering his every mistake from 1995 to now.

It was a moment. The impact of moonlight and campus slicked underfoot. Leaves scratched brick. This boy was struck by the lust that snuck behind him, held his shoulders, smirked, became a weight he couldn’t swallow around. Shoes scuffed hard cobbles. Wind tore this boy’s hair. 

It was a moment, two strangers passing. This boy didn’t call out. This boy didn’t say, I like your shirt. This boy didn’t bump a shoulder and, oh, sorry, Im such a klutz. This boy walked past, beyond, gnashing. 

For this boy, regret is not an ocean, and regret is not a cat, but the view of a still lake from a long-ago dormitory window. How the water carried the following morning’s red light like a heart spilled.  


The Distance Between

This boy has never been in love. He takes his phone to bed, a ghost or a third hand, he can’t say. Can anyone, anymore, the world being what it is? 

He yearns as the hours creep. Desperate to mimic the way winter wind slips through bare branches. For someone to pin him on pine needles. For morning to slap his skin.

He is a dressing gown, a softness, a swanning. An exhale of cold air in a cold living room spangled with Christmas lights spaced exactly two and a half inches apart. Manufactured to never touch. 


The story behind the story:

“The Idea of a Thing is Not the Thing Itself”: Both of these micros are part of my “This Boy” series. Writing nonfiction from the third person point of view forces me to contend with myself as a Character. What does this character want? To be noticed. To be loved. When this happened to me in Ithaca, I did feel pathetic. The regret that suffuses the piece only came years later, with time and a different vantage point.

“The Distance Between”: I couldn’t figure out how to end this micro. How could I thread loneliness and desire together in a way that felt genuine to me? In December of 2020, watching a show about Christmas lights with my family, the care and precision the decorators attended to their lights gave me this perfect metaphor for sustained and permanent distance.

Jared Povanda is a writer, poet, and freelance editor from upstate New York. He has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and Best Microfiction, and his work has been published in numerous literary journals including Wigleaf, The Citron Review, and Fractured Literary. You can find him online @JaredPovanda,, and in the Poets & Writers Directory.

“The Idea of a Thing is Not the Thing Itself” and “The Distance Between” were first published in Hobart.

Header Photo by R Mo on Unsplash

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