Waking by Ashley N. Melucci

Waking

I

slide step
slide step
slide step
turn

We aligned our strides
with the floorboards,
dragging the heal of our foot
and tapping our toes on the wood
counting the rhythm.

slide step
slide step
slide step
turn on our toes
on the edge of the third board,
and begin again.

slide step
slide step
slide step
turn

Yet for all our efforts
we kept finding ourself
off by a halfbeat.

II

Elegance withers where laughter lingers past its time—
where we paced
through fading memories—

the dances, the games, the fights,
how he’d tuck you in at night,
and later how I’d cry
with wet anger burning my eyes—

as others spoke without words to say,
and struck with heartfelt jabs.

Elegance withers where laughter lingers past its time—
where our eyes flooded with vile imaginings
of his young justless death,
of him
wet
lonely
reaching
screaming
sliding
under,
while our mind suffocated with pointless calculations,
for no vain consolation.

Elegance withers where laughter lingers past its time—
where wet anger slips from stone
as communities are built
on animosity that
empowers those within,
while strangling their hearts
and burning their lungs.

Elegance withers where laughter lingers past its time—
where he laid in cold leather skin.
No blood to rose those cheeks once plumped
by sincere boyish smiles.
No blood to rose those cheeks now painted
to hide the rot from kin
seeking fruitless confirmation
from a sculpture by a stranger
who knew only ruins.

III

Now through all those years we tread—
a shadow counting
nothing ever said,
but that’s how it goes,
and peace we will have to find again.

So we scratch a letter,
and fold it in eighths,
and his hands are too stiff to hold it—
we fear they’ll break—
so we tuck it beside
his marbled leg,
and that’s all we can do,
and that’s how it goes.

So we step back
and see
it isn’t him
in cold leather skin—
just a shell sculpted by a stranger.
Funny, even, how silly he looks.
Thank god he isn’t here to see
that flat pale mouth
that bloated face
or skin wrinkled beyond its age.
And we laugh,
for in that place where elegance dies—
we found closure of comic design.

Ashley N. Melucci grew up on Long Island, New York. While attaining her BA in Cultural Anthropology at CUNY Hunter College, she lived in New York and studied abroad for one year in the Netherlands. Currently, she lives in Prague, the Czech Republic, and will soon move to the UK to continue her studies at the University of Manchester. Her works have been accepted by Typehouse Literary Magazine and published in The Fiction Pool.

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