II. The Feint

In a world that is not quite mudluscious[1]
Ten bound of pages gray,
By the window there they lay.
She stares longingly at the other nine,
But only one will open itself to her.
A crumbling egg-timer waits for its purpose
To slip through the air,
Through those aged fingers and into the fog,
Into the steam, into the boiling water with the rest of us.

It watches she who stands above it,
Reading a book, searching for something to create.
She wishes to learn, of violets, of violence
Of something in turn.
For this immeasurable fate.

She begins to speak
But a hand closes around her throat.
“Do not worry,” says a voice. “I’ve come to help you.”
She tries to warn that she cannot breathe.
But the grip tightens and the voice says,
“Shhh…silence, Aaron.”[2]
I am Aaron. She thinks. Merely Aaron.

She is swallowing her skin with every gulp of air
And she faints as the frigid flame beneath the pot freezes
The emotions in that cluttered kitchen.
The chemical reaction slows.

Her sweaty palm grazes the counter as she collapses
And she takes the timer down—with her,
Perhaps so as to have a bit of company.
It lands juxtaposed and rolls on its heel, in a circle.
The pebbles tumble upon each other, crashing
And kissing and crushing and            crashing.
It marches on, it and tide wait for no man.[3]
She wants to want to rest, like the timer, which is
Gradually coming to a stop as it has made acquaintance
with her grimy elbow and silently rolls backward.
Sands hug the glass, afraid, ready to advance.
Her lips begin to move, forming soundless words.[4]
Her freckles spill off her cheeks and mix with

Diamond drops of salty sorrow.
I find her laying on the kitchen floor.
“What are you laying there for?” I ask.
She has found her words.
“I was going to make an egg,” She responds calmly.
She wipes a hand on her apron, smearing oils that
reflect the lamplight into my eyes.
The apron is even uglier than it was before.
I despise it so much that I feel
Vulnerable enough to tell her I love it.
“I love your apron,” I say.
“Thank you. I don’t” She doesn’t smile.
I want to laugh, but I can’t.
I say nothing. It’s better that way, right?

Finally, the pain in the back of her head has
lessened enough for her to right the timer.
But no sands fall.

[1] In a world…mudluscious: Cf. E.E. Cummings: “In Just- / spring      when the world is mud- / luscious the little / lame balloonman / whistles        far          and wee”

[2] Aaron: The Lord made Moses the one to speak to the people of the Lord. Aaron was made to perform as Moses instructed him.

[3] It marches…no man: Cf. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth

[4] Her lips begin…soundless words: Cf. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. At the end of Franny’s story about the people who can see God just by repeating the word, she faints and at least temporarily loses the ability to speak.

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