Pink and orange bleed from the horizon,
Spitting flecks of gold
Like topaz in a crown.
Wrinkle and bow,
Rough against my knees.
Nameless insects click and hum,
A hiss nearby sharpens the tongue
Of the breeze,
When her gaze locks with mine.
Curved to a perfect point,
Framing velvety eyes,
Rippling over delicate bones,
I glimpse her tiny hooves
Her soft ears bobbing
As she leaps.
For a moment,
I let go of my breath.
Empty Without Him: An Ode to my Little Brother
Air, tinged with a whiff of primer,
Whispers between white shades that hang
On grey-blue walls not yet faded from the sun.
The comforter sags to the left of the bedpost,
Twisted green stripes and blue checker.
Buried under them somewhere
Is Phil, the stuffed turtle he never sleeps without.
The closet, door always ajar,
Reveals a pile of basketball shorts and T-shirts
Lumped into the hamper.
The mirror is speckled
With fingerprints and droplets of toothpaste.
Gum is stuck to the rim of the waste basket,
And the box he carved last year gleams proudly
On his dresser.
The red drum set he got for Christmas
And 101.3 KDWB
Are not vibrating the hardwoods
Or my head.
He and his pack of tan, gangly friends
Are not shouting or laughing loudly.
It is only cool, dark, and silent,
Empty without him in it.
Mind the Gap
Swaying in and out of dark tunnels,
Scraping over the ground.
In window boxes of brick flats
A young caramel-skinned woman
Is defined by one word: long.
Long legs, crossed daintily.
Long black braids hanging to her belly.
Long pink nails.
Her thumbs clack over the screen
Of a Smartphone
With a neon purple case.
Across from her, a dozing teenager
With a sweatshirt so baggy,
He could shimmy through one sleeve.
Black headphones suction his ears,
Like a Mickey Mouse hat upside down.
Drool glistens on his lip,
His translucent eyelids
Water-damaged maps of blue veins.
An older gentleman
Sidles past me
In a gust of cologne sharp as Spearmint.
Setting a briefcase on the floor, he sips coffee carefully
Under a mustache like a white mink.
Finally, we lurch to a stop.
Staccato beeping fills the air
Like the squawks of a panicked hen.
I let go of the yellow pole
As the doors whoosh open
To chilly, damp air
And streaks of rain.
© Anna Paulson
Bio: Anna Paulson lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she studies at Concordia University.