Photo by John W. MacDonald
Don’t pause, don’t let the momentum
fail to carry you forward. Keep rhythm,
urgency fueled by the tick-tack, thud
and reverb, metronome footstep music.
Feel of a follower, slow motion, filmic.
Movement seen from corner of your eye,
dark car pulling away, pale fingers dialing
down the light. How to know if you’re awake
or dreaming? Pinch me! they cry in movies
but you always feel the pinch; too-tight skirts
that restrict your steps so you can’t run, couldn’t
run, but you don’t know why you’d need to run.
You don’t dare disbelieve their urgent
deceit, their flippant lies but rather question
your own memory, your own sanity. Gaslight
turned low, there’s a gasp in the dark you’re sure
you heard, a silenced scream. They tell you
you’re lost, but they won’t help your feet
find the path, so you slip on scrubby grass
and loose gravel down the hillside, uproot
weeds, bend stripling branches as you grab,
afraid, for what might be the only truth you know.
You try to let go, calm your hammering heart
your seesaw breath. Find a place where your mind
feels inside itself. But you sense heavy breathing
beyond your peripheral view. Shadows
ominous, full of menace. That’s all
in your head they say, all in your
fevered imagination. Turn your head.
Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books, 2019), as well as Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020) and Tower, a Rapunzel-inspired novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Recent and forthcoming publications include work in Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Dreich, Prairie Fire, Event, Feral, and Parentheses Journal. For more, visit www.francesboyle.com and follow Frances at @francesboyle19 on Twitter and Instagram.
To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “FEAR”, please visit Vallum’s website.
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