She Had No Tongue
An onion snow in March: white
filmed thin between the pines,
flakes melted moist beneath our palms.
Our hands were hot. Our mouths
were not. She stopped talking at noon
but spoke with her fingers, pointed
the way across the bleached forest
and I followed. We stopped
at a leaning bundle of snow plants,
blossomed pink-red. Honeyed,
even up here so high, air dead
and dry. I kneeled to touch
but she said no; finally, a word.
I tugged one from the root.
I would steal life from them
to coax a voice from her lips.
Travis or Trent
or Terry; you misheard his name
but followed every word of his story.
Wool hat in the summer tugged
halfway down his balding pony-tail, he
explained how he got each license plate
on the garage wall. He'd be dead
in less than two months
but that afternoon, chipped cups
and board games spread along tables,
his wife collecting money outside,
you watched him talk, fingers
along raised metal, like no end
exists for this life.
Nick Ripatrazone has work in Beloit Fiction Journal, Esquire, The Mississippi Review, and West Branch. Oblations, a collection of prose poems, is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press in 2011.