Surface Tension

To skim across
the aortic arch
on surface tension,
no more than vibration,
a referred tremor,
a memory of a dream
glimmering across the milieu,
a half-sensed insect on a wheat corn,
Its sway
Brimming the unconscious.

To crawl across
rusted rivet handholds on
the exterior of skyscrapers,
to take a breather on
the back of the left thumb
of the Statue of Liberty,
inverted, a tree
toad licking his eyes
for a half-hour, then
departing, flicking,
imbuing a metal tang in
the back of the throat,
a repudiate bouquet.

The quantum refraction of
A thousand year-old
Ripple across
The back of the eyes,
residue of the indelicate
Hand tremor of creation,
Is not a distraction
But is nevertheless present.

To rest at the precise center
of the universe, to insert
a single, infinitely slender
periscope into the stream
of existence to view
conveying a confluent
At the point of insertion, one
Trailing into the infinite past,
The other racing toward
the inestimable future.

Thousand Deaths Plus One

a flash fiction piece by Zinta Aistars
[email]zaistars [at] kzoo [dot] edu[/email]

“Don’t shut me out,” she whispers to the back of his head. “Would die a thousand deaths for you, know I would, know I would, you know it,” she whispers with her lips right up against the rough short growth of his hair. Her hands reach around to touch his face, turned away from her, his body turned away from her, his eyes turned away from her. Light fuzz, bit of rough, cool cheeks, she smoothes her palms over his face and contours her fingers to the shape she has created. From one micro-magical cell deep in her body, eighteen years ago, she created this face.

She is perched like Mama Bird on the high back of the couch and her legs are up against either side of his shoulders. He didn’t move when she perched behind him. She could talk and talk, her knees pressed into his shoulders, and he would not even flinch. Only the occasional tilt of his head would hint at some listening, random catching of a word.

Her fingers spread through his cropped hair. She loves this rough stuff, this short scrub, on no one else but him. This isn’t just for him, this touching. It’s her food, too. Her spirit leans into the touch, drinks of it, breaks its bread, and inhales. Heel of her palm stroking the length of his skull, fingertips down to the base of his neck, tracing the cords, tensing and releasing of his muscles. He wants to resist, she senses that he does, but her warm hands turn him inside out. His head drops back lightly into the cup of her hands.

“Miss me when I’m gone,” she croons, singing her heartache for him to hear, “but erase me when I’m here, what the hell is that?”

His head tips, then rests, tips, neck tensing, rests again.

“Think I don’t know, think I don’t understand, but oh baby,” she hums, “oh baby. Oh…”

She scrapes nail tips across his skull, his hair snapping to attention. Presses her thumb pads into the valley at the base of his neck until she feels the knot give. Circles at his temples, ever so, ever so soft. His shoulders droop.

“You give me hell,” she hisses, “and I’ll catch it. Kick, scream, tear, doesn’t matter, I’m not letting you go into your own hell without me.” She lays her cheek against his warm skull. The scent of his skin, of his hair, makes her weep. Just like the first time. Eighteen years, eighteen minutes, no difference. She’d rock this baby until he was seventy three. Then she’d be gone. But her wings would whisper soft as her voice now in his dreams. Never let go.

Now her fingers trace the curl of his ears, cool to the touch, like intricate shells. If only she could make him hear. Patter of the rain on the roof, splash of a foaming wave, chatter of a pesky squirrel, sigh of a lullaby. If only she could make him hear.

She lets the silence sit a moment longer, then hums, then sings, ever so, ever so softly a lullaby from those long ago years… of little bears, and dancing sheep, and sleep, sweet child’s sleep, and the promise of so many bright blue mornings to come…

There is a tremor in his shoulders. She stops. Instead, presses her lips to the curve of his skull. Closing her eyes, prays to all good and protecting spirits: spread your wings across my child, spread them wide and hold him close.

“Don’t shut me out,” she says once more, so he won’t forget, but it does not matter. She will stay by the closed door. She will wait.

He gets up slowly, letting her hands drop between her knees, stands for a moment, still, then leaves.

defining myself unclearly in the season of crows

standing in the
yellow light of december
trying to believe in war

casting a shadow along the edge
of whiskey hill road

i am not a ghost yet but have
been playing with
the idea of disappearing

have been considering that
what i may actually be afraid of
is happiness

that what i may actually be
in love with is fear

i spent twenty-seven years fighting
not to be my father’s son
then married a woman who wanted
only those things i was
unwilling to give

found myself in a falling house
with the need to
inflict my anger upon others

and it’s not that
i’m opposed to vengeance
and it’s not that i don’t believe
in freedom

it’s that i have walked through
the screaming crowds promoting
their own self-righteous hatred
outside of abortion clinics
and i have no faith in their god

i have no use for their dogma

i will not be branded a witch
by anyone as lost
as myself

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