By Allison Maruska
I crumble six crackers into the bowl. Six crackers per ladle, just like Mom used to make.
Steam rises off the red liquid as I pour it. A stray drip hits my glove. I wipe it on my blanket.
I carry my bowl to the sofa and peek outside, trading heat for daylight. Snow covers the ruins. Brisk air blows through the broken pane.
I drop the window covering and hold my bowl near my face. The warmth and smell take me back. Laughter echoes in my memory.
Shaking, I take a spoonful.
Just like Mom used to make.
“Talk to me I’m here to listen,” said the mind but the heart had decided.
Razor in hand she saw a little girl running around talking to the trees.
Thud! A gust of wind closed the window; the girl had vanished.
Looking around the house what a vision it was, not a thing out of place
fancy drapes, matching silverware, candlesticks above the fireplace.
Resting on the rocking chair she placed the razor on the table, made herself a fresh pot of tea snuggled in her favorite quilt and dozed off to sleep.
Another day perhaps, another lifetime.
I remember a time
when I could look up
at the night sky
and all I could see
were stars and dreams.
I’m older now
and times have changed
and twinkling lights
don’t still mean the same thing.
Through the trees
did you see the flames
Log upon log
tinder and my tender heart
The flames flame then
stirred by branched memories
Lights at tunnels end
leading to conclusions
that do not fruit
among the smoke
choking the last glow
of you and me
leaving the residue
of tearless goodbyes.
When people asked her what she couldn’t live without, she’d smile and say, “My journal.” People would nod politely. The truth was, though, without her journal, she couldn’t remember who she was. In a mixture of different handwriting and emotion, memories poured out of her mind in a desperate attempt to be recalled. Inevitably, something would scatter it all for her. She saw herself as a little girl building beautiful sandcastles of memories in her mind, as waves of trauma wiped them away. She had learned to cope, but nothing could prepare her for the day her journal was stolen.
Brand yourself mass marketing to reach the wider crowds.
Iron burned red hot and glowing:
quick pressed to unmarked flesh.
Soft sizzle pain then jagged scar:
a logo that’s skin deep.
Remainders product placed remind them
of who you know you are.
Misinterpretations turning blind eyes facing floors.
Your martyrdom’s sans press coverage.
What are you bleeding for?
A hope for light from stars too distant to yet touch down on earth. A firefly trying its best to illuminate rooms as dark as pitch. The center of gravity, the cause for grounding: removed remainders floating free. Tangent to a rounded path: collision course unsettling. Days or nights untold unending in a darkness colored dim. The ups the downs the highs or lows: learning to sink, trying to swim. A warmth unknown to future generations: a unifying force turned shared tragedy. Come together to stand by fire? No: we’ll kill each other first; we’d rather freeze.