Monday, July 28, 2014

Die

By Mitch Grabois

1.
Nurse Amy
observant and intuitive
came to tell me that Tiffany had escaped

I wondered if
she had figured out that I was in love with Tiffany
one of our patients
a chronic schizophrenic

2.
When I was four
my uncle gave me a square wooden coin bank
about the size of a fist
its sides painted with dots to make a die

Even that early he was trying to warn me about chance
and how much happiness depends on luck
The die was the only possession I kept from childhood
Its wisdom was the only wisdom I needed
It eclipsed all other understanding

3.
I’d never wanted to fall in love with Tiffany
--it was a struggle to get her to brush her teeth--
it just happened
No ethics board would accept that
as an explanation

4.
Though I loved the die, I had never cleaned it
and after forty years its surfaces were darkened and marred
Amy had brought me this terrible news
but maybe it was lucky that Tiffany had escaped
before I got into real trouble

On an impulse I picked up the die and tossed it to Amy
It wasn’t a good toss, but she reached out and one-handed it 
She was more athletic than I had imagined

5.
I felt in my bones that Tiffany would not be found
Then I shuddered
and felt nothing at all

6.
Each of Amy’s fingers
gripping the die
posed a question or offered a comment

The pointer asked: Where did she go?
The index finger: Will she come back?
The ring finger said: Her leaving, her escape, is totally unacceptable
The pinkie: Her return is a necessity

Amy’s thumb remained mute
pressed against the die
but there was a hiss from under the
cuticle-- Don’t wait, Hank, go find her


Mitch Grabois’ poetry and short fiction has appeared in over seventy literary magazines, most recently The Examined Life, Memoir Journal, and Haggard and Halloo. His novel, Two-Headed Dog was published in April by Dirt e-books, founded by NY agent Gary Heidt. He was born in the Bronx and now lives in Denver. 

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