2 June 2003 | Vol. 3, No. 2

A Lapse

While being converted into a human dwelling, this greenhouse hid its soul from the carpenters. Windows are everywhere. The building's heavy lids—the wisteria and roses trellised over the windows—are falling away. Trying to hide in the back of these wide-open eyes, a teenage girl sits in the middle of the building in the living-room/kitchen. Alone, both her father and stepmother gone, the girl listens to the hunters' gunshot outside and stares at a knot on the wood of the front door.

Long eyes on closed doors, knots
remember how bare branches emerged
as a plan to hold onto umber, tarnished
scarlet. The leftover colors of autumn
uncover a knot, a hard stare through
death. The hunter squints and shoots

the scraped insides of something half carriage, half pumpkin. Dressed in gown growing holes, the girl finds herself in a strange neighborhood without a ride home. A church clock finishes striking midnight.

The girl looks down at the remains of tonight's magic: a pumpkin that she just pushed through with her sore body and a shrinking man whose whiskers are stretching to sensitive lengths. The horseman/mouse watches the world widen. His eyes are drifting even further apart. Trapped in between the blur of traffic and a curb as high as a concrete wall, his consciousness as a man dies, and he returns to the life he—or more properly, it used to enjoy as a mouse outside of any human fairy tale.

About the author:

Caroline Wilkinson's work most recently has appeared in DIAGRAM, both online and in its first print anthology, and in Square Lake. She lives in upstate New York.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 3, No. 2, where "A Lapse" ran on June 2, 2003. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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