by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

Something has left you, cabrón.
Your most indefinable piece.

It has braced itself at your parted lips 
and pulled itself free while you slept

waltzing, deaf
through the dark of subway tunnels,
curled on its haunches in the bowl of a starving man's hips.

It pales a woman's last breath, like smoke
pushed forever from her chest's closed bellows. 

It flies in short gusts from the unknowable dark
of chimney pipes, of overturned top hats,
to coast on sooty coat-tail wings
passing sometimes while you sleep

so close that it grazes the hairs on your chest
and wakes you, seconds too late.

There is violence 
in the slow wilt of these stems;

in the warp and seethe of the skyline
and in the ragged gait of wire-thin animals
that meet your eyes in the city at night. 

Your reason dances on the head of a pin,
squirming on the tip of sleep’s hollow needle.

It curls itself in the small of your back 
drawn through the dark by your body’s warmth. 

Forget time's currents and the channels they have wrought;
the twisted faces of these carousel horses
and the slow lull of their rocking.

Every night you lift sorrow’s knees around your waist,
drawing your own long shadow into the daylight
where its motions no longer mirror your own.

One day, cabrón
our human skins will grow too tired and worn 
to be convincing anymore

and people will look at us both like they did 
before we ever learned to pretend. 

Just tatter-cloaked shadows hidden among the crows 
that gather every day on the tiered pagoda roofs 
of phone booths

and wait for the Chinatown market to close, 
necks jerking at avocado rinds 
and crusts of bread

trying to break the spine of the small animal 
that instinct still tells them they hold.

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back grew up in a draughty farm house somewhere in rural Ontario, where she spent more time talking to goats and chickens than to other people. She is currently an undergrad student of Human Rights and Human Diversity at Wilfrid Laurier University. You can find her poetry and fiction in upcoming anthologies from Exaggerated Press, Aqueduct Press and Hidden Brook Press as well an upcoming issue of Ideomancer Magazine. Her shameless leftist muckracking frequently graces the pages of The Dominion. Her favourite fruit, of course, is that much-maligned root of all critical thought and rebellious temptation: the apple. If you like, you can visit her blog.

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