Looking Glass

Harvest-byMarkHarrison-smaller

Harvest by Mark A. Harrison

looking glass

seven years, they said
she had felt it
a lump of hot lead in her stomach
staring at the broken shards
winking in the sunlight
on the linoleum floor
as the summer breeze
curled the toes of the curtains
teased the hair from her forehead

she could see it laid out before her
a pathway not of yellow bricks
but of shattered glass
down which she must walk barefoot
penance, they had called it
she was only seven years old
she had not understood, then
why people would choose
suffering over happiness
but it wasn’t seven years
that was a butterfly’s lifetime
the forgotten turning of a season
a minor fling, compared
to what followed after

she watched wonder falter
death by stagnation
the loss of surprise
a series of slow, dull cuts
she had thought the edges
would be sharper
that there would be more blood
she thought, they must
have meant dog years
the days counted biblically
(and on the seventh
she would rest…)

the cup fell
in the twentieth year
she is washing dishes
on a cold, grey day
when it slips from her hand
it explodes on impact
as if it were made
not of faded red porcelain
but something far more volatile
she stares down at the winking shards
and begins to laugh

in that moment, awakening
fills her like an unexpected sunrise
she sweeps the pieces
into a cracked plastic dust-pan
it was there all along
(a side-path, hidden beneath
a thicket of weeds and brambles)
now all she has to do
is choose
to take it.

– T.H.

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