Indiana Review Volume 23, No. 3
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.
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.