Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing Prompt: Elements

He insisted our attraction was chemical, not physical–
it wouldn’t fade as gravity coaxed our skin to sag–
nor was it temporal–our feelings would not grow dim
over eons like some star three galaxies away.
It was chemical, as in based in chemistry
like Na and Cl on the periodic chart, destined
to make salt every time molecules were thrown together.
And we were thrown together. Our one-on-one meetings
behind closed doors stretched into working late nights
and grabbing coffee or maybe dinner before
winding down our days on my couch.
Even when were weren’t trying to be together
we were drawn to each other, like the time he stopped
at a red light and saw me eating outside. I was in town
but didn’t mention it – I thought the elements could be fooled.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Memory of Lucille Clifton: June 27, 1936 – February 13, 2010

the gift

there was a woman who hit her head
and ever after she could see the sharp
wings of things blues and greens
radiating from the body of her sister
her mother her friends when she felt

in her eyes the yellow sting
of her mothers dying she trembled
but did not speak her bent brain
stilled her tongue so that her life
became flash after flash of silence

bright as flame she is gone now
her head knocked again against a door
that opened for her only
i saw her last in a plain box smiling
behind her sewn eyes there were hints
of purple and crimson and gold

Clifton, Lucille (2004), Mercy. BOA Editions, Ltd. (Rochester, NY)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Prompt: Missing Something

The doctor asked, “When did you first notice something was wrong?”

The lion switched his tail from side to side, while he thought back to the moment his problem began. He had been taking his usual 4 o’clock nap under the umbrella tree when he had overheard the birds gossiping about a foolish young male gazelle that had twisted his ankle trying to graze on an untouched patch of grass near a ravine. The elders had warned the young ones to stay in the flat areas, but this one must have been too good to eat where everyone else ate–he slipped five feet, banged his hind hoof on a rock trying to stop from sliding all the way down.

The lion thought the story merely the chatter of old birds until he saw the gazelle herd making their way to the watering hole at six minutes past sunset. Sure enough, the young gazelle normally in second to last had been moved up to a less vulnerable position closer to the front. The lion remembered his heart beating fast then. The excitement from knowing the classic feint attack would yield him dinner and a midnight snack. The lion sprang from the deep grass–first charging the youngest in the herd to get the other gazelles to rush to defend the weakest one. Then he circled back, pounced on the injured young gazelle, dragged him by his bum leg away from the others who watched helplessly as the lion’s plan unfolded without a hitch. They dared not give chase; better to sacrifice the foolish one to teach the others to stay in line.

The young gazelle was scared and dazed, but not yet dead. As the lion raised his mighty paw to finish off his prey, he caught his own reflection swimming in the young gazelle’s frightened tears. The lion felt a pang in his chest, first like a prick of a honey bee, but then the pain spread wild and fast like the flames of an untended fire across the Serengeti. And just as quickly as it started, the pain stopped. The lion eyed his would-be prey but it only churned his stomach. He had no choice but to let the young gazelle go.

“And that’s when I thought something was wrong,” the lion told the doctor.

“Well, according to your X-rays you’ve lost more than your appetite. You’ve lost your heart for the kill. It’s a condition that affects lions of a certain age, but there is a cure. I’ll give you a referral to a specialist down in Oz. He’s seen a lot of cases like yours. I’m sure he could help.”