by Jessamyn Birrer

Life is a tunnel, completely enclosed
save for entrance and exit, a system
that does not depend, but stretches
out underground like a soul case.
This is what she thinks as she lies back
on her bed to let him open her legs and find
the entropy there, try to calm it.
She thinks, Death is not a pity, but a form
of pity. We can watch those we’ve loved
fail under the pressure of time like so
much chalk while our own lives feel
as though they have always been,
will continue ever–a gift of the mind,
so we might believe we aren’t truly
eternal. In the beginning, fairy stories,
ancestors. Parents. In the end, children
cast like pennies into the fountain
of the future, another imaginary land.
He’s watching her from under his thick,
red eyelids, looking for–what?
She closes her eyes, tight, and recreates
the night sky. How dark it is, though its stars
are infinite. There should be nowhere
she can look that is not ablaze with stars.
She imagines the average human heart
will remain utterly alien to her, a region
unable to isolate itself from its surroundings,
subject to any outside force, and yet
unknowable, too, like the future,
like the color of light at the end of a tunnel,
if it is a tunnel. She asks, What is it
you think we’re doing here?
And though his answer can only reveal him
a passenger, can show her nothing
she’s not already thought of herself, how
to stop asking? She thinks, A tunnel,
like the body, has limits, and light,
like the body, even as you approach it,
moves away.


You’re about to leave town for good, but there’s enough time for one last meal. Choose some food:

Omelets, specialty sausages, mangos, kiwis, other nameless exotic fruits, sad caviar…
Spoonfuls of clumped macaroni and cheese.
A to-go bag outside of the restaurant that serves chicken wings.
Shredded sunflower seeds.