launched from a century of dreams with just a kiss.
It doesn’t matter, and besides her breath is bad.
Outside, condos have erupted from the ground,
and the evening sky is freckled with fewer stars.
Inside, he hands her a long-stemmed rose.
It’s thornless, and he asks her to marry him,
knowing that no insurance company
will cover another coma like this one.
With “Who the hell are you?” bursting from her lips,
brittle with the senselessness of ice,
he knows the anesthetic has worn off,
but her amnesia hasn’t.
It makes him think about the physics in all of this,
the coming light about to pour
through a hole in her universe,
how evolution will never be the same.
Even so, he cannot remember
how the story is supposed to end:
why the flies were asleep on the walls
and the horses in their stables,
the brindled hounds in the yard, even the doves,
their heads tucked under their wings.
Although that was another tale,
it doesn’t take long for him to discover
of dreamless nights…
He slips out of the room, his knees spilling
into a gurney veering down the hall
with the white sheet pulled over,
his hands grasping the answer in an instant.
“Briar Rose Defunct” was originally published in Spoon River Poetry Review, 1993.