They Ate Licorice

Good afternoon.
Leaving early her convex desk.
Traffic lights conspire in her favor as she walks home.
Noises of various cars create chord progressions.
There are petunias springing where asphalt cracks.
She follows a grey cat’s face with her own, bemused.
Street hoodlums proclaim God’s fury, but it won’t rain.
She enters the lobby,
picks up the undisturbed mail
and loses a stare-down with a piece of paper:
in a triumph of self-control, he has made a choice.
To avoid hurting her, he will never see her again.

For hours the plane-filled skies darken,
and she tries to play games.
Noises of cars try desperately to figure things out.
She’s becoming allergic to beeps.
She hears scalpels creaking:
someone must be getting skinned for peeling onions wrong.
Almost drowned out by the noises of other traffic,
an elegant Chevrolet rushes human organs
from nearby accidents to the hospital downtown.
An artist walks by with his easel—well, good for him!
He’ll never amount to much painting those petunias.
They should have executions for people like that.

Time will make things better again, she thinks.
So she puts on her pajamas and takes a nap.
Some years from now,
in the same apartment, but greyer,
she will awake to another good afternoon.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Neptune Court.

Originally from Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and works as a college textbook editor. He studied filmmaking and poetry at Harvard University. His work is published or forthcoming in The New Yorker, Fulcrum, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, The Raintown Review, The New Verse News and elsewhere. He is the author of chapbooks Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). He has also directed several short films.

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