She was cautious, so wary,
she hid her feelings from everyone,
including herself, as tarnished images
that could only be revealed once
a cyanide solution was applied.
What was revealed was a photograph
of a dream where voices were heard
but there was no one there to speak.
Was a shadow of a spirit that hid
behind objects the way rocks hide
in a landscape of stones mined from
a nightmare that has no beginning
and no end. Hiding reveals nothing,
she thought, roots you to a ground
that refuses to be as solid as the roots
that seek to find purchase there.
Unbalanced as she was nothing is
reveled to her like images in a developing
tray. Remove them too soon and too little
is exposed, too late, and all the details
become fixed in the wrong places, become
landscapes with no horizons. Still,
she continues to bury what she needs most,
mornings after dreaming, the day becomes
the night she was afraid to focus on,
a reverse image on a negative that mirrors
what is missing in her life. Reaching out
to hold something, anything at all, is futile,
the fears she sought to hide have claimed her.
Alan Catlin is the author of Blue Velvet, winner of the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Competition. His full length book Wild beauty will be published in 2018 by Future Cycle Press.