Friday, January 11, 2013

Sleepover

On her back, veins warm with blood, sunk in cold leaves of grass. Temples sore, stoned by reverie, silent between rows of moon-colored tombstones; his sanctuary of rest. She clutches at her heart, counting stars without saying numbers, barely clinging to the skin of her soul.

Her thoughts are projected onto the silent-movie sky. There is such electricity in the senses when one remembers a subtle and typical thing: that third kiss, given quickly at the carnival for luck; a phrase spoken at the same instant, followed by sweet laughter; the things that reel people in, onto the same shore of an island all their own. There are dozens of those remembrances tonight. She waters the grass with them, and it seems to grow tall and protective around her shape. At some timeless hour, she closes her eyes and faucet-drips into sleep.

At first light, as the sun pulls shadows across her tight, seashell body, a woman approaches with a Styrofoam cup of coffee. The moment momentarily gives way to opening-flower fragrances, the mute symphony of sparkling dew, and the dawn song of birds. The girl rises without words, accepts the cup and sips. She is quiet but thankful.

The woman looks to her and manages a fragmented, but honest smile – for herself, and for this girl; the skeleton and beating heart of her son’s happiness, so vital in his last hours. My angel, he’d said, close to his passing, with the brightness a known truth brings.

That day enters their minds as sunlight chisels and breaks away the nightly fragments. What remains in darkness will sleep, and sleep well. The woman looks to the girl, and the girl is looking away. Neither is aware that they are sharing the same memory, at the same moment, as they begin to walk, hand in hand, towards the car.



First published in The Interzone Poets 1 (2005)

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