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A Clean Sweep


On darker days her toes will curl,
Flex, flare, then slowly (but surely) they fasten
One by one with careful measure —
As though aiming to decipher
Some primordial geological message
Left in Braille for her alone
Along the vertiginous edge of the cliff —
Brushing every crenel with single-minded pains.

Each one of those Lilliputian market visitors
Bites furiously into the arid ground,
Peering over the scarred, sagacious scarp
As pieces of the infirma terror
Begin to crumble away — the mucky scree:
A feculent mire of diminishing, dialectic, detritus.

First to her left (one . . .), then to her right (two . . .),
The pillars collapse into tumbling, grey streams.
And then comes the protracted sit-in — downtime.
For an indeterminable period yawns ahead
As we both settle down to wait, to ascertain
If today is the day when centre shall join them,
And make three the black magic number:
The plunging entrance to a rather melanoid party.

The trees on these plains are swayed by no winds;
This is the eye of the tornado;
The last tangible step into the cerulean boondocks blues.
A needle wavers carelessly over a gauge, oscillating
Between cardinal red and the give-a-fuck flatlands.
Perpetually running on a road marked empty
She has just one solitary click left in the tank.

Her shoulders are bared, mislocated, truncated,
Devoid of ailerons in this airless space.
Two ragged stumps autonomously a-heaving;
I watch her subconsciously open and close them.
An old habit — the inbuilt reflex of a life long dead.
All gone now, its puckered remains alone on show;
Translucent, tracing paper tigers upon epidermis.

Her body is a map of forever,
Overlain with ancient pathways of scars to the stars.
Two webbed, pallid ladders
Hang limp from deltoids to static spine.
Blinding white lines sear through her mind.
So many battles (the dawn never comes . . .).
So many wars (there is no end to the day . . .).
You win some.
You loathsome.

I’ve watched her escape myriad times,
My relief only sanctioned
Once she’s swiftly bolted;
Dashed, crashed and smashed through
Thick, prismatically capacious glass above,
Sailing away, straight as a die, heavenward,
Off into the clouds — safe, smiling once again.
Not a single backwards glance.

Wearily, I pick up the old wooden broom
And begin once again
Sweeping off the world’s edge
All remnants of the chaos
She has left in her fractured wake,
Ensuring an immaculate slate
Awaits her next, predestined arrival.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.