its pages lifting lightly in the draft like wings.
Behind me, up on the wall, hangs a ticking clock,
watching the room with impassivity.
I imagine it regards me with just a little more interest as I allow myself one breath,
and a small, patient smile.
I look up, after a swath of time, to see a hint of smile
on the face of a friend, the only fault in his feigned impassivity.
In turn, I pretend a reluctant breath,
closing my book --
a new one by now — and then we are off like a thing with wings,
soaring down the long hallway as if to beat the clock.
On afternoons like these we ignore the clock
as it coils in on itself like a knowing smile,
choosing instead to measure time's stretching impassivity
with each new, bursting breath.
That way, at least, each second does not seem etched so firm in the great book
that Fate skims through as she walks (if she ever once had wings,
they were bound and broken long ago). Now the wings
of a hurricane of pigeons rise up around us, beat the air into a collective breath
as we run right off the page of the book.
We forget the face of the clock,
and share an invincible smile
in the face of the universe's grand impassivity.
There is a new impassivity
about him now, like a closed book.
His lips wear a cooler smile
I do not recognize. I think it is missing its wings.
I can just hear... tick-tock goes the clock
in the inhale-exhale of his breath.
I hear my own breath
coming more quickly as I turn from him, like the hands of a clock,
and begin to run. I do not know if he follows, but now I am flying on wings
spurred onward by the memory of that smile,
and the detail in which my mind renders it with such traitorous impassivity.
I stumble to the ground across the last line and close the book.
I turn the pages of the book with a new impassivity.
I know I won't find him there, but I keep his wings safe for him anyway. With enough cycles of the clock,
I expect even that will change. I take a breath, but I do not smile.