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Brief Candle

by Ethan Zaborowski

Tomorrow, I’ll bring a ferret to stop rattling

flaccid paws against my bedroom walls, clasping

for absent sight, finding nothing but carpet, 

syringe, and dusty nothing. Tomorrow, 

I’ll bring in a cat, pregnant with cancer,

to be set still in ketamine, and to burn


out with the tufts of fur fallen from them,

out with the milk swishing about his eyes,

out with the pink sack welled up in his leg. Time’s needle,

please, pick away a hairless cat and a sewer rat like gum

from me, though older pictures and their kibble bags


protest that. Burn out the months before

I saw time freeze up one’s spine, heave

the hair off him like dandelion seeds, the way children do,

swell up the adrenal glands like two fat grapes at his sides,

pluck his eyeballs and set two foggy marbles in their place.


With grey and waxen sediment,

smother and dull the years when the other could walk

upright, balance on two nimble, twiggy legs,

wash down his own coat without choking,

and bare straight, white teeth rather than scarce, 

foxed chopsticks. Melt away what’s solid

into what’s assailed, what’s sullied, and leave 

too, too tufted flesh slowly writhing, dully 

wincing, and burning out, out on a bathroom towel.


Make these the lapdogs of rice-paper husks who

stopped responding, greyed, and stiffened

in hospice with their arms reaching

toward the ceiling tiles. Resolve these two

ashy bodies, sweating dryly through their journey,

into a dew. Settle them, flat, into a patch of tepid lack

until they set in dirt and resurface as sidewalks.


These sidewalks will still cry the same octave,

still smell of the same musk as their younger brothers.


I bet I’ll hear them, beige and stiff or not.

I’ll avoid trying to sift over what’s left of the fur. I’ll avoid being

caught again like a wishbone in hot, liquid glass. I know

if I try to pull against time, they’ll spill out on my carpet, 

I’ll burst into sandalwood, and there, we’ll both be vacuumed up.

About the Author

Ethan Zaborowski is a third-year student at Bowling Green State University, where he majors in English and minors in both Creative Writing and Philosophy. He cites modernist writers such as Faulkner, Kafka, and T.S. Eliot, the consonant and rough noises found in Old English and German, and his own difficulty understanding conversational English as having the heaviest influence on his poetry. His work has appeared in The Esthetic Apostle.

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