Floating Ladders1
By Larry Duncan

She dreams the faucet pours hair—
oily and thick, almost animal—
into the polished porcelain
of the bathroom sink.
When she wakes,
she is aware of a body,
a young girl buried
in the plumbing
beneath the house.

The newspapers say nothing.

While he’s at work,
she folds his shirts
and watches a hurricane
waltz the remnants
of farmhouses across the interstate.
She’s in love with newscaster’s
rainslick and the slow
cadence of his voice.

She knows he is afraid.

She turns the radio low
while she eats her salad—
defrosted chicken strips
to keep her strength up—
so she can listen to the patter
of mice in the vents.
They are the girl’s unborn
children, her dreams.
Blind and voiceless,
they practice Morse code.

She waits for hours for the message to come through.

Then there are the flies,
coiling green and black beads
around the seam of the window.
They are thousand.
One for every time they made love.
Bodies of wings
now hard and buzzing
from the pale writhing white.

He finds her there
At the faucet,
after the light has left the room.
The dishes undone
and the flies like a living rope
around the picture of their yard,
the words falling from his mouth
like crumbling teeth.
“Something must have died here.”

Previously appeared in Citizens for Decent Literature #7

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