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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Marilyn Fleming

Bumps in the Road

An early sun shivers orange, awakening roadside ditches. A red-winged blackbird sways at the tip of a reed. The pond lies mirror still. I am taking my morning walk through a parkway, when I spot a turtle inching its way across the pavement. I pick up the bony shell, head and legs pulled in, and trace my finger along the carapace, gently placing it in the grass.

The next morning I take my usual walk. When I arrive at the same place where I rescued the turtle, I now see two crushed shells in the road, legs and tails splayed. I wonder, were they lovers?

inner bark
of a cinnamon tree
I stir my tea

The next day I visit my mother in the hospital. Beside me she is curled up the way an autumn leaf curls as winter sets in.

bare twig
scraping the glass
bone on skin

My fingertips trace her lips, feel her whispered breath. I hold the inside of her naked wrist and remember she once wore a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ band. But the last time I visited her, when she was still living at home, I found the DNR band sliced in half, lying in the trash.

first soliloquy
the loud sound
of my crying

If we could have do-overs, some thoughts are best second, some corridors not walked.


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