There’s a Strange Light Coming Out of CVS Tonight
It draws deer out of pine woods who stand at the edge of the parking lot like they’re listening to an orchestra of cobwebs. I watch through the kitchen window while I finish the dishes. I’d like to go down and see if the light feels as child-like as it looks, like it would hurt you just so it could learn to love you. The yard fills with tree ghosts who snuff out fireflies and dissolve moths in their wake. Why can’t they leave the summer alone? We’ve had rains that draw worms to the sidewalks so we can catch them for the compost heap. We were outside in a swarm of light last night catching fireflies. I wouldn’t have called it a swarm, maybe a concert of wicks, not a plague, but a symphony. Or I might’ve called them the punctuation of sentences unspoken falling from the tongues of trees. Whatever they were, they landed softly on our hands, like ashes. They didn’t let go until we propped them up like small torches and offered them back to the moon. They took their time, searching our skin for some darkness they hadn’t swallowed yet. Tonight the light from CVS reaches past the curbs and makes sparrows in puddles. It turns toward me with its ecliptic stare as the ghosts surround me and fill the kitchen with a wind that smells like October. What do they want me to remember? How do I see myself in this new world that’s learning to disappear one mirror at a time? Does it get any easier, staying here? I should have asked the firefly last night who paused on the young curtain of skin on my daughter’s wrist. She was worried it was hurt, that something was about to die on her. I told her to put it in the sky and wait. When it’s ready, it will fly.
The Man in Our Basement
is covered in starlings. Drinks water that drips where the pipes are wounded. While I lie in bed, I hear ashes falling from the sky of his mouth. I hear him staring at nothing. I hear the trees outside, and they sound like him while Dad sleeps with the TV on, his mouth open, a bit of the blue glow pouring down his throat. The day I met the man in our basement I’d accidentally left the refrigerator door open then went to school. I have a theory that everyone has a window inside them. You can hear them breaking underneath if you listen hard enough, but the harder you listen, the more they break. When Dad and I came home that evening the milk and all the meat and cheese had gone bad. Dad yelled until his face was the color of a bruise. He broke a chair, then stormed out. I sat in the last cough of daylight. The kitchen still smelled like Mom. I looked out the window and saw a silhouetted cloud of starlings warping like a tear on the torn twilight. Below the floor I could hear laughter slowly growing like rust inside the walls.
Marcus Whalbring is the author of A Concert of Rivers from Milk & Cake Press, as well as How to Draw Fire from Finishing Line Press and Just Flowers from Crooked Steeple Press. A graduate of the MFA program at Miami University, his poems and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in, Strange Horizons, Space & Time, Illumen, The Dread Machine, Abyss & Apex, Spaceports and Spidersilk, Cortland Review, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Spry, and Underwood Press, among others. He’s a high school teacher, a father, and a husband. You can connect with him via twitter at https://twitter.com/marcuswhalbring and learn more about his work at https://marcuswhalbring.wpcomstaging.com/poetry/.
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