by Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen


Even after the girl who sits politely
with one leg crossed over the other,
print dress ending at her knees,
in her lap rests a pair of flesh-colored
plastic feet, so tranquil, as if they just
returned from a stroll through fallen
leaves, having kicked up a trail,
feeling the earth turning cool
and dormant, seeing a turtle back
its shell into the mud of hibernation,
a frog slow in its leap from the creek
bank, as if the water were no longer
a hidden place. These smooth-molded
feet like a purse with toes, there resting
in the folds of her dress, open below
the ankles, the holes waiting for her
to drop in the small change of her
life, long after the blades swept down,
the audience hears the dull impact:
thunk, thunk, thunk,
the targets deep in their seats,
they see her hemline and what touches
the floor, a space made for feet.


Not even the sound of one hand
after she finishes speaking.
The audience’s stares amputated
from their faces. Wrenched
out of their seats, they remain seated.
The shells of their ears washed up
On another shore, deaf.
Deep in the meat of their bodies
they hear. From the bottom
of their pockets and purses, the space
between sock and shoe, something
that will never shake free of their
tweeds and blouses. It will be there
on the drive home, and later
after cocktails, the tiramisu will
ooze in a way they’ve never noticed.
For now she sits quietly
on stage, in the glare that details
the reconstruction of a flamed life.
She is beyond friendship.
She remains locked in her room.
In front of hundreds,
she remains behind the door
of her skin, the frozen rippled topography
of heat, her forged, fused face.

Last updated November 07, 2022