Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dead to the World

When the news comes the way
it sometimes does in a dream
in which you are eating your fingers,
smacking your lips at their deep-
fried goodness but all the while
knowing there is something
not quite right about this scenario,
but the wrongness is not enough yet
to overcome your feeding frenzy
until you get all the way to the third
finger on your second hand and begin
to notice a persistent tapping
in the background as though a tiny
metronome were keeping the beat
for a tiny mouse ballerina who lives
and practices her pas de chats
in the suburbs of Medulla, Oblongata—
but until then you are dead to the world,

not unlike yesterday, when your co-workers
emerged from their cubicles en masse
to huddle around the big screen
in the break room.  From your chair
you could see some of them lift
a hand to cover their mouths, others
shake their heads and slump into chairs,
and when you joined them for a closer
look, no one spoke to you except
in half-muffled sobs, their red eyes
looking right through you, so this,
you guessed, this had nothing to do
with another birthday party where
there would be cake and singing
to while away the rest of the work day,
no, this must be something new
they were finding out about the world—
at their ages, too!—something flashing
in their eyes, worming into their ears,
something that would briefly drown
out the sound of the dozen clocks
in the empty office, a ticking
which seems to you the only sound.

(from Writing Tomorrow, 2014)

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