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The ViolinI heard the coyotes again last night.
It was a brief trill out of the darkness, somewhere on the far edge of the cherry trees. I lay in bed, listening to the silence that followed, halfway expecting to hear the sudden cadence of paws running through the crust of snow.
They always come from the west in the velvet hush of darkness, beckoning me from the deepest of sleep.
I wavered there on the cusp of slumber, with a vague sensation that the room was spinning. Blue moonlight webbed between the bare tree limbs outside the window, and captured me in it's snare.
Suspended between awake and sleep, I was transported with the simple sway of branches. A final cry from the coyotes sent my thoughts winging across continents, over oceans, through fog... to the cold flagstones beside the River Thames. The echo of their wild call held in the winter air like a breath expelled, and wove with a single note peeled from the heart of a violin.
I remembered that violin, singing into the London darkness.
CoppertoneThere I was, a gangly legged teen who had all sorts of notions on what real beauty was. Sprawled on the vinyl folding chairs out on the lawn, I would stretch my pale legs out like white sprouts on a potato, slathering them with Coppertone.
I wanted so badly to be tan. California-Coppertone-Beach-Bunny-Brown. The kind of tan where you could slip a watch off your wrist and see it's outline in contrast. All the popular girls at school could do that. I would see them at lunch, comparing 'white lines'. My whole body was a white line, thanks to the endless parade of very pale ancestors who looked on from old pictures with somber, chalky expressions. In class photographs, nobody had to ask where I was placed. They would just follow the glow of my face, reflecting the photographer's flash.
I was a persistant little cuss. Spreading a blanket out by the lake shore, I immediately started basting myself like a turkey, while my best friend would sprawl in the sun without even worrying. She could gr
longdead leafa longdead leaf
burnt brown in the depth of green
cups a handful of fresh water
a leaf left behind
holds something of worth
forgoing death with its dead body
Poetic PsychosisIn thirty seconds, the next shell would fall. Every night was the same, but every night Lorenzo experienced it as if it were the first time. His throat felt swollen; breathing was hard. He glanced around at the others; young men like him who had been shipped out in the name of honour and freedom. There was no honour in this, no freedom. Only death behind your eyelids, and a fear so gutting, that it carved out your innards and left you a hollow husk. Lorenzo tried to breathe, tried to assure himself that he was still whole, still made of flesh. They had lied when they told him he was ready.
Matteo ran towards him, arms out, rifle swinging uselessly at his side. He shouted for him to run, but Lorenzo remained motionless, unable to move as his friend’s warning was lost in the constant blare of gunfire. None of them were ready.
“The cycle is repeating. It is not safe.” The voice was soft and weak, yet it carried over the gunfire and battle cries without impediment.
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