poem23 Oct 2017 08:37 am

“I asked him,” she says,
fingers cradling the cheap plastic of her cup.
Ice cubes—expensive in the station bar—dance and crack within.
“Exactly as you wanted me, I asked him…”

Her companion waits for her to finish; when she does not…
“And? What did he say?”

She pauses, unsure.
She is unused to such uncertainty;
to questioning the questions and not the answers she has gleaned.

Her companion doesn’t notice,
or perhaps he notices but doesn’t care to let her know.

“And,” she continues, wanting only this moment to be over
–and honestly, since speaking with the traveler, wanting all moments over;
wishing the world itself cease the constant low-level thrum
she now cannot unhear–
“And he said it’s not the colddeep that kills your soul,
nor the constant sleep, alone in your coffin in space,
year after year after year after year…”

Her companion leans forward–this is what he wants,
what the traveler has always before refused to share.

“It’s the eyes,” she says, then stops, wondering why the words sound so different when she says them,
as opposed to him.

Her companion startles; flinches.
Certain that his uncertainty is wrong.
“The what?”

“The eyes,” she says again, and cannot unremember the way it was said to her,
the frantic scratch of the traveler’s voice,
the fog of his breath in his capsule as she checked and rechecked
his status boards and reluctantly okayed him yet another flight.
“The eyes, he said, and how at every port they remain the same
no matter how far away he runs,
no matter how far away he flies.”

Her companion grips his cup–glass, he can afford it.
“The eyes,” he says.
And deep in thought yet still a blank, “The eyes…”

Her hand twitches;
ice bobs up, bobs down; topples, sinks, and rises again.
She questions speaking more but speaks anyway.
“Are you happy now, now you have your answer?”
She hopes he is more than she hopes he is not.
Or perhaps it’s the other way around; it’s hard to tell anymore.

“I don’t know,” her companion says. “It’s not what I expected.”

She releases a shagged breath.
“It never is,” she says at last, still focused on the ice.
On anything but her companion’s face.
“It never is.”

illustration from Ars pictoria : or, An academy treating of drawing, painting, limning and etching : to which are added thirty copper plates expressing the choicest, nearest, and most exact grounds and rules of symmetry Year: 1669 (1660s) Authors: Browne, Alexander, fl. 1660-1677 Browne, Alexander, fl. 1660-1677. Whole art of drawing, painting, limning, and etching Jode, Arnold de, active 1660-1669Fialetti, Odoardo, 1573-1638 Bloemaert, Abraham, 1564-1651. Oorspronkelyk en vermaard konstryk tekenboek

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