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The Casualness Of Casualties


In the intimate interlace of chance and fate, in the ultimate interplay of time and place, and with the consummate checkmate of my human dignity, all that is -- is over, in the stormy, swarming space of mere moments.

turbulence rises
as sun and clouds intersect -               
his calm persona

A random cancellation fits in perfectly with my schedule. In the lucky twist of a Wednesday morning, the doc just happened to have an earlier time available. I arrive and set my umbrella down as I sit in the corner seat, alone with my journal, grateful to be on the fringe of the pulse around me. My thoughts swoon, intoxicated by the lush honey of last night’s lovemaking, where behind the arbor of our well-tended landscape, passionate flora still grows wild. Sensual ink sizzles in release from my amorous pen. Wanton words rush, in poetic passage, to press themselves against the wanting page. I’m still rosy with the blush of love even after twenty-five years of marriage.  

a wild-rose in bloom
flower head full of sweet scent -       
bulldozer chains brush

The waiting room is alive, a beehive abuzz. A community gathers, familiar with each other in their usual appointments of personal injury and workers comp claims. Bilingual conversation spices the crowded waiting room. This morning, a Portuguese dish is the topic of discussion. Morsels of tasty details are translated into English. A kiss of the fingertips releases affectionate praise for the saffron infused white wine sauce. Mozambique is declared “Delicioso!” I smile as I recall my own racy recipe; a piquant blend of long-lashes and loose curls, hazel eyes brought to a flirtatious simmer garnished with risque lingerie, stirred, shaken and served while hot. Voluptuosa!

warm breath of summer -
pollen-laden goldenrod
colors feet of bees 

Just another typical day in this snug working class neighborhood. Until, a high velocity kick explodes through the door with a blasting barrage that splits and splinters the scene into a stinging hive of non-stop violence. No time to scream, or hide, or repent. No last dance, or kiss, or goodbye. Black muzzle strobe light freezes fight-or-flight into a staggering slow-motion. Adrenaline and cortisol never stand a chance. Chaos cascades in rapid-fire flash. Shell casings jump lively, leaping from their chamber and diving to the floor in a metallic clatter. A cool-minded extremist moves methodically.

moving in rhythm
not a ripple but in waves -
wasp colony swarms

Before I understand what’s happening, a force blows me back against my chair and steals my exhalation. Seized respiration struggles in vain to return. In the din, the ding and ting of spent shells reminds me of wind-chimes. Are chimes falling again and again? My waning pulse whisks my fading mind home on soprano notes… Home, to my garden, where breezy fingers tickle the tinkling from decorative metal bells. Air fuses with broken chords wafting a choir of cloudless notes in a farewell aria. How did the zephyr sense I needed an angel’s palliative song? Home, to my kitchen, the sunflower center that attracts the flock, rich and vibrant with the love that feeds us. Wednesday dinner tonight, everyone coming over, the chatter, the laughter, my menu planned - but not executed. My beloved family, promise you’ll always turn to face your petals toward the Sun. Home, to my husband; the champagne that flows through my veins. That smile, his large-frame voice, his gentle gestures that pull me in, those effervescent eyes that excite me so, the lust of our love - we tingle with uncorked joy and overflow with good fortune. A toast to you, my darling; I love you. I love you all, so much. A final tear gathers in the corner of my eye and grows a belly heavy with memories before it falls. Metallic clatter drags my tapering thoughts back to reunite with my doomed body. The passing bell within my chest is silenced by the bestial steel drumbeat. Savage intent interrupts thoughts, dreams, dinner plans, sentences, laughter, heartbeats, lives. A mortal sin throws a lasso of sorrow that will forever noose the tenderness of loved ones left behind. I slip on a knell from life to death.  

hush befalls garden
broken chimes strewn across mulch -        
distant sirens scream

My essence leaves a down-to-earth hollow husk. Lifting, I am softly aloft the bleeding carnage as the last moan dies. The no-longer-living ascend in a meteoric rise leaving precious belongings behind. Mine; a splattered notebook that survives me. A formation of imagination, alliteration and reality; thoughts nestled like flowers between pages, red petals of rhythm and rhymes scattered across white sheets. Emotional nectar now mingles with the red-hot spill of my blood quickly filling the empty lines of an unfinished love poem.

wild-gardener wails
useless thorns on fragile rose -                  
Moon aligns with Sun



Susan Ashley
February 23, 2020

Copyright © Susan Ashley

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