by Marc Vincenz
asked, Did you sense it?
When the old woman died across the hall.
She used to talk to herself you said,
and on Sundays she’d thump the wall with a broom handle
screaming something about a lost god.
But you didn’t know her. Not at all.
Once you recalled meeting her in the cellar
in the room where the coin-op washing machines
churned like the engines of the building.
In twilight or near darkness she almost looked transparent,
and her hair, in its very white, became like thin
luminescent strands of plastic eels—
in the dark she stopped your heart more than once.
So when you were coming in from work in the evening
and the dawn was slinking out, you’d make sure
to smoke a cigarette in the cold to avoid her creeping down the stairs.
She’s lived alone most her life, he said.
She even had no cats or birds or fish, but talked to the walls
as if that’s where she might find God.
It was strange, he said, to live all those years,
then suddenly disappear into the depths
of your bath to end all things.
You nodded, sighed, then stared into his eyes
as if they were pale blue Mediterranean oceans.
previously published in Prime Number Magazine (Press 53)