Goldfish

keys
Mood: Threadbare
Drinking: Watered-down tea

Goldfish

It’s gone
before she can close her fingers
around it.

Gone like a flash
like a fish, slippery
and silver. Catch
and release is
supposed to be intentional
but

she looks surprised
every
single
time.

“What are you looking for?”
(The keys are in her left
front pocket.)
She replies with a
triumphant jingle, her
eyes sparking alight.

Three seconds later
the spark goes out and
she’s looking again.

This time I tell her where they are.

She says, “How did you know
that’s what I was looking for?”

I tell her I’m psychic, but
can’t watch her laugh.

The joke’s not funny
when the punchline
is buckled into the passenger’s
seat. The joke’s not
funny when it’s been repeated
17 times in 7 miles. The
joke’s not funny.

Three weeks later
on the telephone
she tells me my
dead grandfather
is waving to all the
smokers outside her
hospital window.

“I’ll be fine, though.”
Pause. Wheeze.
“I don’t smoke
as much as I
used to.”
(Not a single one since
I was 12.)
“Only one or two
a day, now.”

I want to ask
what day it is, exactly.
But days don’t really matter
when you’re stuck
in the wrong decade.

It’s nicer there, anyway.
She’s got cigarettes and Ernie
inside her plastic castle. Please
don’t tap on the glass.

Three seconds later
she remembers herself.

“When you’re a bully
all your life, you get
what you deserve. I
get what I deserve.”
She says it
without pity.
I pretend I didn’t hear her.

The truth is easy to forget.

Wait just one more second
and it’s gone.

-Lo, who is beginning to believe that “growing old gracefully” is a crock.

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