Note Held

“Nothing but sunlight and gleaming,
linoleum flecked with flame,
a thick coat of wax that flashed
down a corridor and led to a room,
a place where I curled up a few
innocuous inches off the floor.
Straps—word out of strophe,
the restraints of line and stanza—
straps hung in loops on closet hooks.
On the nightstand a basket with
peanut butter crackers, a vivid
and unnatural orange, a crinkly
wrap. A knee-high fridge stocked
with icy juices, foil boxes, straws
glued on. A female voice next door
claimed she was still a human being,
though I could not hear the reasons.
When it was my turn, I answered
right away, saying I knew where
I was and why. No, I would not
harm myself, surprised to be asked
as I had never had the thought.
Yes I knew where I was going next.
Out the window and through shadow
and streetlight, I saw how this building
connected to the next. I was to follow
a stripe painted on the wall. Someone
would walk with me as well. I felt fine
I said, and it was sort of true. Actually
I felt nailed by one wrist to a desire
to flee and by the other to a sincere
longing for sleep. I was not in pain.
Thank you. I felt like the very last note
in a concert, the one that hovers as if
it wants to linger, but is already over.”
More Poems by Fred Marchant