ISSUE 5 FEATURE
When all was said and done no one carried about them any means to do otherwise. So they did nothing. They started out by saying some things now and then when they could. Eventually there was no point in saying anything. One would sit for a while pretending not to be concerned.
Another would stand up staring off into the middle of nowhere. Another would by and by lie down somewhere and never be seen again. Sometimes sitting would be all they’d be doing. If a bomber came over their chins would rise and sink until it was long gone. Their chins looked like bad corks on old lines in fishless water.
Once one of them got up and gave a speech about a girl he once loved. Nobody stirred. No one had a spoon strong enough to use. If a knock came at the door hard nobody looked as if it had been heard. Hard was the water, still as a stranger was the water they were drifting over. Now and then one of them would sink under and never be heard from ever after. Nobody looked as if anyone had noticed. And the surface of the water didn’t notice either. Not for very long. If gunfire started up sometimes one of them would flinch but only just a little.
They could still tell when their palms tingled they’d been given toxic honey. No one ever mentioned who put it there. Mentioning was a note they’d long lost. At times whole days could go by with nothing but the scraping of wood under leather disturbing their soon to be narcoleptic suspension. Wind blew in under not quite closed doorways, it blew in through broken windows. Somewhere beneath the floors sometimes something buzzed for a while without notice. Out from inside of them went vortices of various chemical collisions. Their teeth clacked. Their knees snapped. They could hear their eyeballs swim in their sockets.
If a siren sounded nearby none of them noticed. Their heads were bent down and their backs were buckled and crooked and funny. As if they’d been thrown out of mineshafts they’d been recently dynamiting. They could hear themselves thinking a thinking on which no thoughts traveled. In this slush were they nearly now frozen. No one had any dry matches. None of them knew how to stop things from freezing. And once the snows came it would be final. Meanwhile when the world turned they continued to turn right with it. In this way they were moving across a great distance.
They were as silent as smoke, as silent as growing. Liquid poisons were noisier than any of them. For a while in the beginning they now and then sang, hummed or whistled with little result so all that stopped. A nearby piano had had its harp taken out and sat there agape looking stupid. Likewise two guitars with no strings stood in a corner chastised. A thread of silk through the eye of a needle was louder. If one of them coughed the rest of them ducked then glared around the room before subsiding into their silence. When it was dark enough to shut out the outside they disappeared along with their furniture.
If nearby a wolf howled no one knew what to make of it. Once a bird hit a few notes undetected. There was something grinding through something inside their walls which had once been a topic of conversation. The ticking and thumping they’d once known were their hearts had been bled away. One who talked on occasion when they were sleeping was soon banished. If suddenly a boot hit the floor, one good solid thump, it was enough to rouse them to murder. They took their cues from old corpses. Photographs of long dead ones were more raucous.
What had begun as an amusement had turned them into zombies. Some kind of gone wrong kid’s game of never blinking. Never breaking their silence. If there were vows these were lost. If there was to be an escape, something to jolt them, instructions for disassembling the rectitude, it was an afterthought long forgotten. Their sadness would not be bent or broken. If a bird crashed into a window nearby nothing registered.
Dara Wier is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Reverse Rapture (2005), published by Verse Press.