Usually she moves along the street unnoticed. Gradients of grey and ghostliness. Along the pavement, square by square, her soft-soled shoes are soundless.
You won’t hear her coming. You won’t see her going. A murmur unheard.
But she is there. Watching the cars line up at traffic lights, curls of smoke dissolving upward into the cold air. Watching the bright-coloured bikes rush past, watching strollers roll along with fat laughing children. Watching the flicker of black-coated shoppers in and out of the coffee shop. Frame by frame.
She has her own movie planned. Sometimes all you need is a red cape.
The sickly crunch of the digger’s metal teeth
Tearing into it. Jaws unhinged, incisors pierce
the sagging skin and rip downward through
weakened bone: the shy skeleton of our house.
The vicious series of snaps
are the loudest sounds we’ve heard.
And the teeth keep working; cruelly chew
through doors and curtains, pipes and passages.
Spit them out into a pile of twisted innards
for buyers and scavengers and graverobbers.
It wasn’t when the chimney crumbled
into red dust that settled on our tongues,
and it wasn’t when the porch shuddered
before its quiet, swift collapse. It was
when we saw that flash of purple — a strip
of the wallpaper that we pasted to the nursery
wall two weeks before she was born —
it was then that the house broke.
Windows rolled down, the violent rush of air smells of something you’d almost forgotten. It tastes so fresh and sharp it almost cuts your tongue.
Press your foot down to floor. Vibration rattles your arms, your finger. The hands that will write the words.
some pandemic perceptions from somewhere in canada
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by Ruann Weidemann
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