I rest my thoughts on the idea of your slender neck, think of words that don’t caress: violent, vitriol, until I get to violet, purpling to faded armchair velvet, viol of the arm, low notes rendered—no wolf tone howl but such sounds your hollow body makes—mellifluous, through ribs & catgut and shapes that draw air, so that I, listening, forget to breathe until my lungs take in what’s trembling through an open window at twilight just when the coyotes offer their vibrato & bravado: a girl two doors over practicing for high school orchestra, filling the air with her broken chords, sighing September, as she drags her bow across strings, solo—the perfect wail of being seventeen, & I want to save her.
She plays in the key of forgetting. Forgetting, she loses locale, landmarks. Landmarks wander in her mind. Her mind becomes an antic character. An antic character will wonder. Wonder is the destination, unmapped. Unmapped, her trip takes an unexpected turn. Turn loops past the gas station & church. Church reminds her of repentance, an altar. An altar takes shape in her mind like matter. Matter becomes quark, atom, & particle. Particle reminds her of clavicle. Clavicle curves, a bone at the base of throat. Throat opens to voice & air & words. Words may lie because nothing is as it seems. It seems that she is losing her mind. Her mind rounds a corner and runs into a door. A door swings, creaking, hinges into the cerebellum. The cerebellum rests under occipital & temporal. Temporal suggests time, which the eye meets, open. Open, she tiptoes in the vestibular corridors, hearing chimes. Chimes say the clock strikes down the hall. The hall is the vestibule where she waits for language. Language bears the thrum that she cups in her hands. Her hands open & memories fly out like birds. Birds always know where they are going. Going, she hangs her sorrows on a hook in the hall where they jangle, like keys, until she returns.
-- Elinor Ann Walker’s recent poetry, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction are featured or forthcoming in Bracken, Cherry Tree, Feral, Gone Lawn, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Northwest Review, Pidgeonholes, Plume, Ruby, The Southern Review, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, lives with her husband and two dogs near the mountains, and prefers to write outside.