The sharp tip of a feather pricks my chin, piercing through the fabric. My comforter must have thinned out, a bit. Still it comforts me. Half asleep, I pull it to my face, brush my cheek against its softness. But the tip of a feather awakes me with its light sting. Hazy, under eyelids closed, I see a running goose. It must be the one whose dawn fills this blanket—my sweet bed companion.
I see it, briskly beheaded, on a sunny day… body frantically touring the patio, while the neck spills blood like a broken faucet. Almost a circus number, leaving children eerily stupefied. How can a bird run without cerebral matter? Well, there wasn’t much to start with. But how can a corpse keep going? Shouldn’t it fall, like a stringless puppet?
Smoky concepts… let’s see… residual momentum? Say the nervous impulse has to complete its path, bring its message to the far extremities, though the source is gone. The extremities, alas, do not know.
Scary, is it, such delay of information? Where is the bird going? What is it running from, and where to? Why this silly dance? Disaster has already stricken, old clown… don’t you see you are dead?
The goose sees, but it takes a while. That’s all.
I would like to sleep a bit more. I’m not ready to plunge in daylight. To invite back unconsciousness, I picture your hand on my breast, using mine as a momentary ersatz. Thus I realize my breast has changed, over time. Like the blanket, it has thinned out: I’m afraid it would not fill your palm as it used to. Such passing thought saddens me.
I recall, then, ways to summon and gather the flesh, have it bloom into a small but satisfactory bunch. It could still be done: nipples squeezed between your fingertips, pressed under your skin.
Right there, my flesh hosts extraneous formations I had forgot about. Briskly, they come to mind. They get often checked, to verify if they evolved into lethal stuff—to be butchered away— or not yet. The outcome, as well as the timing, are unpredictable.
My breasts, like myself, are bound on uncertain course to unknown destination. Maybe they are dancing a last dance, this morning, are they? I’m not all that different from a crazed headless goose—my deceased bedmate, slowly wasting away, still keeping me warm.
Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Gyroscope, Birds Piled Loosely, The Capra Review and Burningwords, among other journals and anthologies.