Outside the soup kitchen, she went sane
the instant she picked up
a bright penny, with the man on one side
and the building on the other side
of that circular plane.
Minutes ago, she bit her mitten to make sure
she hadn’t lost
her fingers again. It could be
the medication, or it could be
her birthday—neither has a cure.
Turning the coin, all makes sudden sense:
noodles falling apart in chicken sweat,
one square slice of white bread,
metallic green beans, coffee, and half a stale
Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Decadence.
She can’t break the pattern until she finds
the pod bay door, the constant starship
behind shimmering holograms
that fill her mind-loop arena.
The pendulum winds and then unwinds.
Her recurring birthday: the one
they took the copper coil out.
She told the man in the metallic building
She’d been a redhead in her twenties.
At forty-five, she was done.
It wasn’t just twenties turning
into pennies that pulled her into the soup,
but her talent for decadence:
hallucinations and men,
those hairpin curves of learning.
How she wants to go straight like the rest of them!
But the penny’s edge confirms what she
already sensed; the straightest arrow flies an arc.
All lines and planes warp in orbit, and even
the starship bows to the world’s momentum.
First published in The Pedestal Magazine