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Shooting Stars, Desperation, & That Couple on the Couch

                                    Charlotte Pence


Captured—like when a brush tip dips
into a pallet of impossible glitter—the blaze
of light from a sparkler streaks past the window.
Blaze some call hydrogen, energy—God.
A woman sitting nearby mistakes the light
for a shooting star, wishes that her new boyfriend
fall in love with her, marry. The usual.
Quick to wish, she believes in belief,
the principle as warm and twinkling
as this hotel lobby with the shimmering
Christmas tree. She doesn’t notice how
the tree looms over them, how the light
casts long shadows across the ceiling.
Her boyfriend, however, corrects her,
tells her it was not a shooting star, but a sparkler,
and voids her wish. Desperation, a foot-step
from hope, strides forward now.
So, new plan. She laughs, says,
“Was too a star!” Then asks: “What if
I pulled down my sweater, right here,
right in front of everyone?” The star
is elsewhere now—and never was. The sparkler,
tossed to the grass, bubbles with dew, chilling,
her hand crimps her collar, daring
the man to say no, daring
the star not to be.


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