Being handed an envelope or a tall lemon tea can interrupt an education. So can a wound on its own bed of salt. I told you to go ahead and catch up with them. Last I heard they were deciding on a country to feel sorry for. Someone has to stay behind to guard the produce, I added as a way of volunteering for something crucial that was easy to do— not like I couldn’t watch videos on my phone at the same time. There was this one of a big storm blowing a slew of royal blue umbrellas whimsically down the beach. None of the tiny people could catch them. It was the most fun thing.
Ways We Run
Like a loaf of bread in a birdcage you chase me and I run like a sheet of beeswax rolled into a candle. I run like the tide sucked off glass-covered rock as my bleeding heart drops between my legs every 28 days, as my valise of pig’s feet and Cuban cigars emerges from the shredded rubber curtain of Customs. I run like a coatrack on wheels. Like a child scribbles in different directions, I run from you— like salt and green air lined with telephone poles, like a deliberate breeze toying with a feather drives the late afternoon into feverish deep rose until the faithful dark husband of night comes home. Into a library of cocker spaniels and the marble bank with a robbery in progress I run and I’m like a forgotten walking stick left in the umbrella stand. Like sap and tumescent I.V. bags I run, I run either way Caribbean or Caribbean is pronounced, like it’s Spring and I run into you melting, less and less of me freezing back again so I take off like a cheetah in the body of a sunken pumpkin. I run from you like any piece of furniture that needs repair and the long since broken stair not to mention the red that pinks the whole wash. If I just go through the motions I run like the Census Bureau or the built-in sink or the double oven. Sometimes I run into trouble, debt, people I haven’t seen. I run out of gas, money, lines, excuses. I run around, which is to say, in circles and then I get run down so I leave like a steeple and it’s no wonder you follow like sheet music lifting off a balcony or a knocking radiator, you follow me to the edge of the continent, to the back of the auditorium on big cat paws. Oh you’re onto me, ash-robed and barefoot through broken windshield, past old men at checkers over a crippled card table steadied with The Reader’s Digest, past a thousand articles of faith and a phone booth of fireflies, past history and hydrangeas, past the mendacious lace of kindness and the crueler suits of half-truth, past rape on a baize-covered table and surgery in the closet, above ozone and organized sports, below the larva-white bellies of mating snakes, around beauticians and barbells, through schmoozing herds of plaid sheep and sidewalk diners with flaming hair and students of philosophy leaning over Wittgenstein like celery hearts and still you pursue: through putrefactions of desire, pinetum and strip mine, through nothing but nasturtium and high tension lines, around the Radio Song and the Cape of Good Hope only now we are taking on water, we are taking chances which is how we meet by accident at the fish farm and later by the dishwasher you back me into a corner with nowhere to turn so I turn and the whole mouth of the universe opens and I duck into it.
Sharon Black, a recently retired librarian, is published in a variety of journals, including The South Carolina Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mantis, Poet Lore, Mudfish, Rhino, GW Review, Verse Daily, Painted Bride Quarterly, and forthcoming in The Hamilton Stone Review. Her poetry has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Wallingford, PA but also likes to hang out in the Saranac Lake region of the Adirondacks with her husband and dog.