Indiana Review Volume 23, No. 3

TIME DIFFERENCE

It’s snowing but not accumulating

And everyone leaves the laundromat

With more than they brought.

Daylight savings has screwed things up:

Coffee shops open late, bread refuses to rise,

Alarm clocks around town play

“If I Were a Bell” in unison,

Then in a round, now a slow fugue, then the fade to silence

While we watch the snow come down.

We hear of a plane crash in Taipei

The morning before it’s happened, and how tragic:

Dead on a Wednesday when it’s not yet Wednesday?

And where do those bodies go?

There must be no seasons in that place: sometimes cold,

Mostly mild, usually dry, sometimes a hint of rain.

Nights are cloudless, starless, moonless,

At dawn a violet light. A tiny hiccup

On Solstice. Bicycles are winged

And if you’re lucky

You can cross the dateline in a day.

The international agreement is called off.

You learn to obey streetlights, caffeinate to keep up—

But few make it, and fewer make it back,

They climb too close to the sun,

They fall to the sharks and the Kraken.

When you wash ashore, your unisuit is slit

From crotch to neck, both halves burned.

Then they untangle the sand

From your hair, peer beneath your fingernails,

Roll back the eyes in your head, and you wait.

OCTOBER

It’s raining colored paper.

No, birds—cardinals, orioles, and canaries,

swooping, dipping towards the hard surface

of the road, then gone. It’s the cornfields

 

have turned to paper, and a pumpkin

spills its guts on a front stoop.

A boy discovers it and starts to cry.

Who would do such a thing,

 

bring down the jagged grin, hard, on the steps?

Something in him falters.

He imagines his house on fire: water boiling

in the goldfish bowl, floating, weightless fish.

 

He thinks about God and Judas

and seventeen-year locusts, how they ruin things,

wringing his hands, worrying his fingernails

to splinters. He stares out at the fields,

 

counts minutes till schooltime, his breath

a neat circle on the window,

because it’s cold this October, already—

and there in the road is the flock of leaves,

 

swooping, dipping into the hard surface,

then gone. They touch down, and then they’re gone.

The cornfields have turned to paper,

and behind them the sky.

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