Unfathomable

Time hasn’t stopped.
It drags on and on,
elongating,
one moment stretching into the next,
indecipherable.

Our dreams hover,
day-old helium balloons,
stuck in that thick space between rationalization and
realization.

We laugh, but our smiles crack.
Tragedy attracts itself,
swarming,
buzzing and bumping up against our eardrums,
refusing to be silenced.

Reality is too real.
Nothing is as it once was.

What do we do when the future,
no longer a ladder toward our dreams,
flattens out into a perpetual,
unfathomable
present?

Expected

holding my hand during the sad parts,
a quick kiss while we shuffle around one another making dinner,
the graze of your finger on the back of my neck as you pass by,
your knees tucked tightly behind mine
and your arms enveloping me;
a little bit of expected,
in a time when the world is feeling
more unpredictable than ever

Suspended

his voice is low and soft,
a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out only on special occasions just to feel it between your fingers,
as a stream of I love you’s purls from his lips,
like rain from cloud to roof to eave,
and her face becomes fierce with belief,
drawing a circle around all the hours they’ve spent together,
a feeling of longing crashing against the underside of her ribs as the swollen, humid air begins to swirl with their whispers,
suspended,
like the iridescent membranes of soap bubbles

Before

life was Dorothy Hamill haircuts and bright white roller skates with colorful wheels,
dimples and batted eyelashes and 25c ginger ale in returnable bottles

before it became grocery store boxes of hair color and the embarrassment of paper food stamps,
30 pounds of extra weight and fingernails bit to the quick and too many crushed cans of Milwaukee’s Best Lite littering the shitty apartment

life was bruises no one could see and tear-soaked pillow cases,
reduced priced school lunches and ketchup sandwiches at home and too many unasked questions by too many people who were supposed to be doing the asking

before it became her own hands swinging and her mouth repeating and too many more tears on another generation of pillow cases,
expired milk and bare cupboards and needle tracks up arms that have hugged all the wrong people

Inertia

the rains come again,
tap-tapping at the window panes,
a symphony out-of-sync,
not unlike the fearful beating of her own heart

a familiar, creeping terror rises from a place beyond thoughts,
some innermost trap door flying open,
her instinct to leap upon and lean against it with all her might,
to padlock it shut,
but that energy has long ago evaporated

so she murmurs in a rhythm,
uttering age-old phrases that spin-cycle in her mind,
an attempt at talking herself off an unrevealed ledge,
fear pumping off her in virulent, toxic fumes

she isn’t herself,
hasn’t been for a long while;
her very smell like that of imminent winter,
brittle and airless with the heavy inertia of time

why has no one noticed?