There is paper and there is ink. There is the couch, the gentle depression, the part the cat has scratched. There is the glass and there is the ice. There is him And there is me. And for awhile there is silence, except
Then there are words that come out and my brain saying, shut up shut up shut up but I keep talking and he keeps talking and then there is pacing, the long walk down the hall.
The stiches that held it together have come apart.
This is the power of words, the moment is both the recording and the record needle, it is the doing and keeping, creating and solidifying into things we cannot, do not, take back.
We are the palimpsest. We can rewrite this.
He shifts. He opens and closes his book. He does not want to talk, but I am tugging loose a thread I should not have touched, my fingers picking and picking,
because tomorrow I will go to the doctor and he will listen to my heart and I will think about dying. Because that is what we all think about when someone listens to our heart. Think about the hard ground, the mushroom blossom. Think about the grainy ash between fingers in another winter that we won’t know. Think about a universe beginning and then beg it to stop.
I want to ask him each day: Is this what we have been waiting for? Are we just too scared to admit it? But I’m not speaking now. He is.
Imagine the whole ocean fitting in your mouth. Imagine holding it there.
When I flip through the pages of the past, it goes like this: yesterday, with open windows first neat and cut laid out side by side and then sloppy as I go back farther, towards childhood. I remember the red door, the smell of the dog’s food. I remember the bookshelf low to the ground page after page after page and the murmuring groan of feet on hardwood, rocking rocking chair women cackles and coughing. It goes on like this, from the things I remember to the parts I make up, fill in like so much putty, weave into ropes to tamp down the tents.
Tomorrow is just more flowers, bodily pink and spiked green. It is only more kneeling at gravesites, more ashes to scatter. We will take off and put back on the funeral clothes. We will set and clear the table as we have for generations. All the births except your own are behind us now, a soul like a marble, round and glistening in your pocket.
You squeeze it tight, the way I used to. You check your pockets, padding down. Frantic. Is it still there? Is it still there? Well, is it?
Ally Malinenko is a poet whose first collection, The Wanting Bone was recently published by Six Gallery Press. Ally has previously been published by Alembic, Blind Man’s Review, Small Brushes, Whiskey Island Magazine, The Unknown Writer, HeART, Mad Poets Society, Posey, Jack Magazine, Words-Myth, Pens on Fire, Sugar Mule, The New Yinzer, Zygote in My Coffee, Delirio, Orange Room Review, Why Vandalism?, Mad Swirl, Gutter Eloquence, Unlikely Stories, Deuce Coupe, Calliope Nerve, Clockwise Cat, Gutter Eloquence, Althernative Reel, Black Listed and 13th Warrior Review. She is currently working on her first novel for children and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats.