Title: A Walk In The Park
Author: Helen Cothrel
In the park I can see from my sixth-floor apartment window,
There is more green than I ever imagined
Could fit into such a small space.
Every morning as I wake and turn to face the sun,
I am surprised anew by the vibrancy of it all.
A few minutes to rouse myself,
And I am down the stairs, out the door, across the street.
My morning walk in the park
The Same, as it’s always been.
I love the Same.
It’s always there for me.
In the evenings I return.
Something draws me here,
Something about the way it seems
So much bigger at eye level,
Like stepping into a puddle you’ve seen from afar
And sinking in to your waist.
This evening, something about the Same tugs at my mind today.
The melancholy might have a Different color to it this evening.
I shake the thought from my mind.
I return home.
My dinner is the Same, my bath is the Same, my bed is the Same,
But I’m still hungry,
I don’t feel clean,
I can’t sleep.
The next morning is the Same,
It really, truly, is the Same!
I may be more tired.
But the Same is back.
Still, the evening disconcerts me.
The Same is there, but so is Different.
Then the Same is gone and evenings are just Different.
It is, somehow, darker here now.
Each morning revives my spirit,
Each evening I feel closer to Death.
Until, one evening, They are there.
A man and a woman,
Sitting side-by-side on a bench.
As I approach Them, a heat starts to spread through me.
After a few moments,
I recognize it as hatred.
I hate Them.
It only takes a moment for me to recognize why.
They are Different.
They are Interrupters.
They are Trespassers,
They aren’t even Human.
Her skin is so flawless,
And frame so delicate,
I am hardly surprised when,
As She turns to face me,
The paper of her neck crinkles uncomfortably,
And a glass bone pokes through her cheek.
The man has noticed me, as well,
And He is as serious an offender as She.
The heavy wrinkles of His ancient face
Are meticulously sculpted in clay.
Their hollow eyes are nothing more than black dents
Set into the faces of monsters.
I am Terrified.
I am Confused.
I am Angry,
I am the Exterminator.
I realize this as,
I reach into my pocket and find the matches
I don’t remember ever placing there.
As I flip open the matchbook and tear one out,
The heat begins to leak out of me.
I waste no time,
Flicking the now-lit match onto her hands,
Neatly folded on Her lap.
Her paper skin is aflame in an instant.
The fire burns so hot,
I can see the glass of Her skeleton beginning to sag.
A slow expression of horror
Begins to creep into the detail of His face.
But He is too close to the tower of flame that was his comrade,
And the clay of his face hardens.
He is captured halfway between hollow and terror.
He looks confused, half-finished,
A young potter’s first work fired carelessly in an old kiln.
I do not escape unscathed.
I can still feel the heat across my skin.
In the night I nurse my divine burns,
And dream of a Man made of clay,
And a Woman with glass bones,
And paper skin.