by Andrew Pluta
Your lungs are fully compressed,
Like an accordion that has squeezed out its last milliliter of sound.
The moment feels like a million,
Plagued by indecision.
To perform any action you must solve your inner Sphinx's riddle
During this mental game of Red Light Green Light --
But the instrumental illumination remains bashful, blushing.
Your legs are not rubber but steel girders,
Welded to the ground by the most experienced artisan.
The wax of your skin is held far too close to the inferno --
Melting rather than perspiring.
Beneath it, your heart's steady beat has crescendoed to a deafening drumroll.
Your panic has struck 10 on the Richter scale;
By all laws of physics, a collapse of your skyscraper skeleton must be imminent.
But in the last possible moment,
Which is really the first moment,
Self-assurance substitutes stress.
The accordion plays louder and prouder than ever.
A mere particle among millions,
Flowing on an assembly line of identical droplets.
Unsure of where you're going,
Of what your goal is,
Even of whether or not you're truly wet.
At times, you navigate every curve
With the boldness and agility of a luge olympian.
Other times you scrape past the divots where your peers stagnate.
Your scant momentum narrowly rescues you from their fate.
Foreigners accompany you on occasion.
The hitchhiking leaf who you carry to his next stop
Or the ambitious young minnow yearning to race you.
You'll never forget the figures that come from atop their beanstalks;
They're always hesitant, opting for only incomplete submergence.
But each outsider proves to be an acquaintance at best --
Rain checking your invitation to travel farther.
To travel to the end.
Whatever and whenever it may be.
Eventually, you feel this end--fear this end--lurking.
You're losing control and predictability as the current intensifies.
If you were cruising before,
Then you're hopelessly hydroplaning now,
Horrified that you will veer into the bank
Before reaching your intended resolution.
Will you become beached?
Doomed to evaporate?
Your ears are ringing,
No, something else altogether.
This chaos has distracted you
From the newfound frigidness of your surroundings
You're convinced that the hands of
Have scooped you from the current,
And are currently carrying you.
For just long enough,
Your tumbling and spinning slow,
Allowing you to confirm your worst fear.
You wanted to reach the end--
But not like this.
You hold your breath.
You close your eyes.
This is it.
But it's not.
You open your eyes to a new world entirely.
You're flying now but calmer than in your most tranquil times adrift.
This state lasts but seconds before giving way to supreme serenity.
You bask in your new blessed basin, looking up at the waterfall.
The waterfall that terrified you--terrorized you--
Before granting you the peace of mind you've idolized for so long.
The journey has ceased.
You're home now.
He had promised her a LaCroix,
So he'd be her favorite boy.
But it was no use;
He forgot pamplemousse.
Thus tangerine ruined his ploy.
Christmas in July
Deep in the trails of every park,
There is a Christmas tree--only accessible in the heart of summer.
You should start searching for it around midday, the Sun high in the sky.
So bright and scorching that its radiance has exiled every last cloud.
Once you enter your preferred park, travel fifty paces forward.
Then fifty paces to the right.
Then fifty paces to the left.
Then another seven to ten thousand paces wherever your heart desires.
By now, you should feel discouraged and
Wonder to yourself if the tree even warrants discovery,
So repeat the prior process.
Assuming the day you decided can be deemed worthy,
A membrane of sweat surrounds your skin but not your lips and tongue. Definitely not.
These should be well on their way to becoming indistinguishable from beef jerky.
Your head should pound at least a little bit, but don't worry,
This is only recommended, not required.
The tree is looming close.
Although the sun has turned your eyes to the coin slots of your piggy bank being,
You must keep them wide open. And your mind should be equally wide open,
As this Christmas tree may not be the evergreen you're expecting.
Look for trees with broad branches bearing bushy bouquets of leaves.
Your destination should be like a living umbrella.
You know you've found it when you look near the base, and a gift is tucked away,
Just for you.
You become a kid again as this soothing shade simulates Christmas morning.