I must now decide
I must now decide
Sand down the edges
–understand you are
making an argument.
ideas is not convincing.
Here you have lost
has to be found.
sake (not ours).
Manipulate the truth
–use what tools you have;
symmetry is always lost
if you dive too deep.
I’ll take a piece of peace
since you’re offering
In fact I’ll have a whole slice
Followed by a sip of hope
No need to ask me twice
“Just write,” I said
but they looked at me with dread
before filling their cups with words
and then we poured
together our word-hoard
into something particularly absurd.
“Remember our goal,”
I cried to your hole from my hole,
“We can stitch it together later”
but this Frankenstein of ours
his face looks sour
and he’s got the eyes of a traitor.
Perhaps I’m too eager
to place the meager
words there on the page
but surely these words are proof — breath
ideas that’ve already been talked to death
like Lazarus returning to the stage.
Do you like my mask?
I told you not to ask
This is beauty, behold
No dear, this is gold
Shocking, have you heard the news?
No, I felt it in the pews
This is life! Enjoy it
I cannot for you destroy it
Shhh, listen to me
Why can’t you just let us be?
I’ve adapted, I’ve evolved
No friend, you’ve dissolved
Do not judge, we are the same
First remove your mask and feel no shame
What you think, it matters not
You err dear friend, we are one thought
Tasting rather tart
stomach squeezed in fist
heavy on the heart
is an opportunity missed
the place I go to be
to put it simply, to be me
There’s no forced smiles and
no forced laughs
no cut-out, stitched-up human crafts
Judge me harshly
if you will
choke on your own remedial pill
But grant me this,
let me seclude
to my familiar solitude
The moon, a pin on the night’s oily wing,
will smile — sunlike — as it braves endless night,
halfway there, a thumb, not a toenail — ring
nor crescent, but a king in his own right.
But what king ties himself to agony
or looks too closely at God and is blind?
Reflective surface — mirror Domini
your face is too bright now for one to find
the carvings that boldly adorned your head
markings that show where there once laid a crown
too worn — a thorn — where many men have tread
hanging in endless night — oh take him down!
Put the moon in a box with other lies
Hope alone rests in this: the sun will rise.
She stared at the setting sun. It was like a beach ball at day break, all bright and round and red. Sometimes hard to tell if it was rising or setting.
“Help,” she said quietly, almost to herself, or to the setting sun. What would have helped at that moment was a broom, she decided. She could ride off into the sunset and ask the sun herself.
She had transformed since her last visit to the shore. More crabby. She wanted to belong on that beach. She knelt beside a particularly slow and grumpy looking crab.
“It’s nighttime,” he said.
“Not yet,” she said.
“It will be,” he said, ever the pessimist. “I’m a realist.”
Cidney Ellen had nearly arrived when she noticed her slipper was missing.
“Oh fiddle,” she said and turned around to search the soggy sidewalk she’d walked up. She hadn’t gone far when a large, lumpy toad hopped out of the dead wet grass and plunked down in the middle of the side walk.
“Hmm,” Cidney said, considered it an omen, and turned back in her original direction toward the steepled mansion at the top of the sodden hill. There was a certain… oh what was it? Cattiness? Yes, perhaps it was that, though she really felt the word unjust to feline-kind everywhere, after all, some of the gentlest friends she’s ever met were cats… but there she was, letting her thoughts wander away from her again. And anyway, there was a certain cat-like-ness in the air tonight, too. Cattiness, and something more: a creeping disinterest in reality.
Hobbling up the front steps in just one slipper, Cidney straightened her glittering tiara, brushed down her ruffly, white, and soaked skirts, and rapped on the door in a rhythmic way.
One minute. Two.
Cidney began exploring the porch. It really wasn’t so bad of a place when you got down to looking at the roly-polies in the paint cracks of the window sill, or the way the creeping myrtle was curiously beginning to wind up the sides of the porch. Even the sharp October wind was alright because at least it wasn’t playing games with you. It shocked you down to the bone, but then that was that. Cidney didn’t even wish she’d brought a coat.
All except the pumpkin. It was a bit disheveled-looking, with lumps in unusual places, and sat forlornly on the edge of the top step, water droplets still pooling in the little divet at the top. Even if it had been the most beautiful pumpkin in the world, Cidney still would’ve shuddered. She couldn’t stand the sight of them; not since the accident.
The door burst open and a hand darted out and grabbed her.
“We need your help!” Wendy greeted her without ceremony, yanking her down the feebly lit main hall.
In the rooms they passed, Cidney caught glimpses of all sorts of unusual sights. A scarecrow doing a jig on the ceiling, and a nurse chasing after him with a needle and thread, catching his limps as they fell off. A werewolf howling at the little squares on moonlight on the floor. A long, rectangular, suspicious-looking box rattling and thumping from the inside.
Wendy dragged Cidney all the way up to the attic, an unusually spotless room, just for tonight. A dozen mice were dusting and scrubbing the floors and walls, even though they already shone to polished perfection. A tight-lipped, severe looking middle-aged woman sat in the lone armchair in the middle of the room, a compact mirror lying open in her lap.
“We must hurry, my child, it is almost midnight,” the woman said, beckoning Cidney forward.
Cidney knelt before the woman, and took the mirror the woman pressed into Cidney’s cupped hands. There was a certain resemblance between them, not exactly in their look as in their manner. Both seemed to have their heads in the clouds of a world that had long since passed them by. The cadence of their movements. The gestures of their voice.
Cidney closed her eyes and inhaled. Wendy and the woman looked on, and nobody spoke. Wendy glanced at her watch.
“11:59,” she warned.
“Cidney—” the older woman pressed.
“I’m trying! It isn’t working!”
“You must wish harder!”
The mice all spun in unison, and froze, as if they felt it. The gleaming wooden walls shivered. Moonlight grew brighter from the single oval window at the back of the room. A faint scent of roses tingled in the air.
“Midnight,” Wendy announced, frowning at her watch. Everyone exhaled together, even the mice.
All that work for nothing. She was never going to break the spell.
“We’ll try again next year, my child.” The woman patted Cidney on the arm with what she seemed to think was a consoling touch.
Dejected, Cidney nodded, and got to her feet. “I’ll help you clean up,” she told Wendy, who only shook her head.
“They were fine this year. Only one minor mess in the kitchen from the cowboy. And they’ll all have settled down by now.”
Cidney and Wendy descended together, walking back past the rooms of young people sprawled flat on their backs, waking up foggily and scratching their heads, murmuring confused statements to each other that weren’t even all the way to questions. The usual.
Wendy smiled sympathetically and waved a quiet farewell to her friend at the door.
“Happy Halloween,” she said by way of apologizing.
The words were finally starting to feel less foreign in her mouth, so Cidney turned and replied, “Happy Halloween.”
In the brisk moonlight, she hobbled back down the sidewalk, wishing for the millionth time she’d never said yes to pumpkin anything.