Words do not flow freely from uneager mouths. Mine, at least, stumble and tumult from doubting fingertips, spiraling half-remembered stories. Churning brain cells work to rewind and unsnarl the growling, tangled reels. One step ahead of the executioner, knife skipping from one edge to another, from one country to the next.

Wandering happily with an undercurrent of longing. Memories and obligations demand entry on sleepless nights, leaving sheets as knotty and cracked as ancient skin.

Sloppy kisses from adoring younger sisters. Out-of-breath cackling from telling my mom a joke to erase a look in her eyes I didn’t understand. Tatter stained childish wonderment at the unfairness of life, the rare snatches of bliss before ears trained to listen twitched and grabbed the fire extinguisher of self-preservation.

The savaged dreams, guardian-kissed escapes and unquenchable scars unbind from patterned whorls delicately etching the passage of time. They wrap around a pen and march across my keyboard, determined soldiers who will carry out the mission even if they don’t really know the goal.

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