She whooshes into the lobby, leaving shimmering trails
of stardust in her wake, grasping a handful of necklaces
she says she found outside the strip club. Thrusts them at me
and gingerly I finger coral, amethyst, lapis lazuli.
Her bones shine through her skin. She was recently beautiful
but today I smell urine, booze, cigarettes, let her use the bathroom
even though it's against the rules. She disappears too long
but I don't have the heart to knock on the door. I check my watch
and wait for her to emerge from her cocoon.
A series of nested craters open up beneath her. Her skin erupts
with fibers so fine she cannot see them. She squints and plucks
and scratches and every day there's a new crop. Doctors nod
without looking up from their screens, friends laugh, family frets.
Or they used to. Sludgy syrup coagulates in the sockets.
Gray soap scum collects under the fingernails. A rusty splash
dances across her retina, a brown gash splitting the planet in two.
Time becomes a slender filament knotted to her accelerating fingertips.
She can still hear the distant suck and swirl, the whoosh of a galaxy
being flushed into oblivion, taking with it wisps of plasma and ash
and pulverized diamonds, potato chip crumbs and sanitary napkins
and crumpled aluminum foil compressed into an impossibly dense
particle then turned inside out and boiled until it bubbles.
There's a scrap of rawhide she's been gnawing on for months.
There's a soup can full of marbles. There's gum squashed
beneath the sink. There's a brain-eating amoeba
reaching for the knob on a door that has no latch and no chain
and no deadbolt just a keyhole large enough to drive
a Subaru through on the way to the chop shop.
There's a pair of lace panties hanging off the horn
of the crescent moon, she swears they're not hers.
There's a tiny black blob balancing on her fingertip,
it squirms away every time she tries to squish it.
The milky orb darkens she closes her fingers around it
and slips it down the front of her jeans. She needs a belt,
everything's sagging, sliding, bunching up. Eclipse follows
eclipse, moon and sun take turns blotting one another out,
her throat burns fire and brimstone, crystal and coal, she bends over
clutching her stomach, confessing the secret to eternal life
all over her sneakers.
A thousand years later she bursts out of the rest room
and strides past the desk and my mummified husk
into the bright cold sunlight of the dying universe.
The day is a thousand black balloons deflating
she crushes glass beneath her feet, asphalt tries to trap her soles
The red constellation of her mind burns out star by star
leaving nothing but a bare clothesline stretched across
the vacant lot of the sky.