Her face burns in a tall candle. Strike a match between you fingers and call her back into existence. Hundreds just like her are packed in decomposing boxes. It was the bulk price of grief that the innocent pay. She is immortal there amongst the sugar-coated candies in fine netting, fit for a bride. Not long ago everyone burned one in their small windows like a beacon, brash, temping whatever misfortune might come next. When loss was fresh like a new coat you were proud to wear. A cut and then a glow. Not only our fingers bled. We forced our keening, shrill as starlings, packed the remainders. But the ants know how to salvage, how to make the best of a bad situation. They marched through that netting, staking their claim, chigger-like. We are the real stoics, though, who wait for something solid and bitter to stop the morose vocabulary being held in our collective mouths from spilling out. We all inherited the trait of not wanting to document our lives. We only wanted to live them. Now this. The smell of every flower holds the stench of empty words uttered in superlative tribute while we hold coarse yellowed handkerchiefs to the gaping holes in our faces. Moriah is ever so patient and has time on her hands. In the cold afterglow, she will link arms with us. She flickers. Leads the way.
Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at a university in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in a variety of venues including elimae, SmokeLong Quarterly, Eyeshot, PANK Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, jmww and others. She was included in Dzanc Book’s Best of the Web 2010. Her chapbook Natural Habitat was published by Burning River Press in 2010.