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Time in a Bottle

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Imagine
A shelf
With bottle upon bottle
Neat little rows
Stamped labels
Corks sealed with wax
But they are empty
Expectant
Waiting to be revealed
But with a closer look
There is a glimmer
Hope, maybe?
Or something more
The slightest push of air
And a label uncurls
Each fiber of the feathery paper
Fighting
Against the glue
Until it lays flat
Wrapping against the glass
Eight gleaming digits
One oh one seven one nine six four
What could it be?
Breath fogs the glass
But cannot hide the soft orange light
Not a candle
But a moment
Almost frozen
Two small trees
Orange
   Red
     Yellow
       Gold
Flank a metal bench
Stock-still
Guards to the inner chamber
The secrets
Hidden within
Shaded from disapproving passerby
A refuge for those who dare to search
Who must search
But none of that is important to the two lovers on the bench
Not now
Not here
Because one talks on and on about nothing
Or maybe everything
Friends
  Science
     Work
         The weird roommate
And the other laughs and smiles and blows leaves out of her eyes
Because it is November
In all its beauty
With the two rightfully dubbed “baby trees”
Showing off
Their newest fall colours
Because someone in the apartment down the street is blaring The Supremes
Even though it’s four-thirty in the afternoon
And everyone’s heads are swimming with numbers and names and definitions to keep straight
But the laughing girl flies off the bench
Springs on her feet
Pulling the other girl by the wrists
And they
Dance
Twirling
     Leaping
  Spinning
Gliding
They embrace
The heady aroma of orange and jasmine
  mingling with the slight sting of Aqua Net
Coral lipstick smudged against cheeks
Polished heels abandoned in the grass
Long ago
Oh, the love of the young
But suddenly
Pause
And then
Rewind
A cosmic remote
Forcing the world
To pull itself backward
Back to the first leaf
Landing
On the girl’s nose
Trapped in a bottle
A loop
With no happy ending.




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