When I had been in his house a day and a morning, dogs in the vicinity began their
communal howl.  After a month I’d join them in ways a young woman can—my voice, a
drawer of expired medicines, opened and shut.

I learned new words, walked the city at night, rode on the back of a bike pedaled
by his madness.

Late summer mosquitos drew blood through my lace tights.

By fall I burned with fever—misdiagnosed by design.

All winter he told me stories.  I thought the stones of the city, carved plain or ornate, would
tell me more.  His house certainly did.

Early spring I took to biking along the river to a nearby city that once bordered the sea. The
river that had carried plague inland long ago.  I pedaled back against the wind carrying
imported henna.

The first month of summer my lover arrived.  She laughed, shook her head—
we took other lovers in other houses and listened to rain and sun.

In fall before I left the city, I came upon a row of small pest houses at its once outer edge.
The owners collected rent from young couples and the newly widowed.




Sharon Coleman‘s a fifth-generation Northern Californian with a penchant for languages and their entangled word roots. She writes for Poetry Flash, co-curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-directs the Berkeley Poetry Festival. Her book of micro-fiction, Paris Blinks, comes out in March from Paper Press.




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