Plucked Not Struck

If no one waits for you
on the other side of the screen,
then wooden box
means coffin not confessional.

If no one says no to a child
who tampers with ornaments
on a cafe railing,
then there’s the mind
of another sex offender
in the making.

If her sister discovers a new geometry
in bold primary colors,
then she will hold the numbers
securely in her fist.

Then she will keep walking
city sidewalks
till she finds the perfect kelp forest
to release them into.

Then forget restraint.
Throw Bowie
in the lab.
Then push Neil deGrasse Tyson
onto the stage
without a telescope.

If she won’t look in the mirror
on this trip,
then she won’t see
the stars scorching

everywhere—trapped
the way she is
on a #7 train stuck in a tunnel
beneath the East River.

If five years
is a long time
to go without
seeing a real monster,

then a watched Apple
installation progress bar
won’t get bolder
even as an unbearable tartness
begins to tease
the tongue.

If a harpsichord burns
in a yard in England,
then it will first warn us to pause
beneath a single note flame.

Then a radio emergency
alert system
will flood the eardrums
till a scratching on the screen door
fades under manual typewriters clicking
in a row in an empty room.

Then the ocean will beckon outside
as marching boots on wet pavement
get closer and a train
passes overnight

before breaking open
to crickets as they stir
in a rock pile fence
on a hot morning

that spills into a liquid cool
afternoon over a worn hammock
then burrows into a night sky
that a paper hole punch
has transformed
into an eyelet shawl

so that tiny discs
of atmosphere and cobalt blue
dreams can drift downward
as snowflakes
that have no longer
lost their way.

If / then
wire strings
will melt
our wayward myths.

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