Apr/May 2016 Poetry


by Chris Tannlund

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream


The hours stretch before me now like
long, slender legs I waking-dream
beside me this insomniac night. I remember
a girl, ten years old, a school
picnic where she sat beside me
boldly, ignoring my spidery
fingers on her knee and the whispers
of her boy-hating friends. A daddy
longlegs skulked across the splintered
bench right onto her skinny white thigh, and I
slapped it. She screamed, then
froze in terror as above that ruined
kernel of a body, eight inverted
legs like anxious batons spun and spun
in the reflexive sunlight, folded slowly
together then still as if in prayer. And though
I loved that girl in my own unlikely
ten year old way, I took perverse
pleasure in picking those legs one by
one from her skin, twirling them between my
murderous boy fingers, flicking them one by
brittle one into her auburn hair while she
screamed and screamed. I think
I was teaching her something I'd just
that moment learned myself, though only
tonight does the lesson really sink in—Life
ain't no picnic,
I was saying, and growing up
will mash our days into spinning dead years, too
bent and anxious and prayerful to stand
before the memory of this moment, into sleepless nights
like dreams, long and twitching in our hair, slapping us
out of nowhere in our unsuspecting beds.


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