his laughter was the kind
that bit the throat, gently
at first as delight can be a cruel
disguise, turned inside out
for the egotistical thrill. notice
how the lips curl, the lion’s tooth
a proud mean. search his eyes for a
definition. play the game of
context clues, no hints. he is a guess
that will leave no shadow in the
sunlight and no trace under a
harvested moon. scramble to keep up
with the ring on his finger he puts
down to dress up. bold colors fade
in his rein. blood thins. he tipped
the books from their case, rattled the pans,
and kept one like a potted plant, wilting
and flooding, wilting and flooding.
the fake tooth clicks. he plucks at
strings. his eyes never close. his fists
never open. feel brave but not strong.
feel savage but small. a gate in the garden
crashes shut every once in awhile and
the whole house jumps. his laughter
was relentless. shook the walls like a
thunderstorm until the power was out.
echoed in the largeness of night. a
rumble under the bed. the stench of
petroleum drifts in through an open window
with a siren and a distant dog. as if
chess were a game we played for fun
a candle was lit. he kept laughing
and finally disappeared. hours passed.
wet carpet burns the cheeks. outside
the wind is wild and full of gas and rain.
the car is running and he says, go back
in the house,
laughing.

IN RETROSPECT by: Courtney Marie