The Twitch
  Eleanor Fogolin

The Twitch and I are two months old.
It thrums, choir invisible, behind my eyelid like a pair of wings.
Lift the latch of that eye, and the moths come fluttering out.

The Twitch is unromantic.
For an afternoon I thought it was a flagman holding up his signal arm:
Brain Tumor, One Year To Live.
I wrote heartfelt letters of farewell to everyone I knew!

The Twitch and I are two months old,
but there are ghosts in my hands yearning after old games they used to play.
The hollow of my throat is full of wind and roaring.
What’s the history of the Twitch?
What ancestral song does it sing in Morse code?

The Twitch and I leave the house in a print dress. “Twitch’s Grand Day Out!”
I walk down Metcalfe in a direction I’ve never been before.
Construction workers take brunch in an alleyway, steel jaws snapping. Trap! They go. Trap!

“How’d a sweet girl like you get so many bruises?”
“I work in a graveyard,” I think but don’t say.
“The sleepers underground reach up to trip me by the ankle.”
If I could leer like a death’s head, with day lilies for eyes, and lavender bones...

Twitch. Twitch. Twitch.
The Twitch and I drink espressos. Coffee is a kind of madness; it’s the madness I chose.
On my immediate left sit the pair of eyebrows that wrote The Old Man and the Sea.
On my immediate right a young tenor sings for spare change. He’s good: clang clang go the coins in his bowl.

The Twitch and I browse through pretentious bookshops.
Borges and Calvino take turns spinning the teacup
whose bowl reflects the universe entire:
galaxies, garden socials, cosmologies, coming-out balls, cataclysms, implosions.

The eye is round, like a world,
and the Twitch is practiced in the art of snuffing the world out like a candle.

The Twitch has a theory that the noble pursuit of wisdom is a fig leaf
covering an appetite for destruction;
pen and sword are indulging each other’s worst inclinations on the weekends.

I would drown these sermons in eye-drops,
but blessed if the Twitch doesn’t drone on like a Doctor of Philosophy refusing die.

I sleep as long as possible, but the Twitch is in bed beside me,
with legs unshaven and tangled in the blankets that it has strewn with crumbs
from its peanut butter and crackers.
Together we cook sausages and eggs, and with a basket on our arm
judiciously select apples in the market.

We are incurably domestic.
The Twitch is Humphrey Bogart, I’m Lauren Bacall:
my part in the murder of Sean Regan is downplayed for audiences
in the era of the Hays Code.
The Twitch is Marlon Brando, I’m Vivien Leigh:
I descend swiftly into madness.
The Twitch is Paul Newman, I’m Robert Redford:
we go out with guns blazing in a freeze-frame.

The Twitch works the shutters in frenzy when the weather is hot,
making me quite frantic.
Some days this life is so charmed my heart could burst in a font of fire and gold.
Other days I’m stiff with the anticipation of some far-off shoe dropping—
whence comes the dread Twitch, hale fellow well met.

In some as-yet unknown future, when fate finally separates us,
the Twitch will depart, leaving its towels on the floor and bars of soap clogging the sink.
“What memories we made together.”

I shouldn’t always be at the mercy of my flesh.

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