Footprints in the Sand

by Kimberly Tan
Art by Diane Kim
Issue: Elysium (Spring 2012)

Lying on the crooked spine of the wilted oak,
tears spill from my amethyst eyes
and shatter beneath concrete skies.

Nine months you bore
a rustling heap against your spine,
waiting with fervid eyes and flushed cheeks,
until one morning you snapped,
and I listened to your screams
pierce the air like the scalpel at your side,
your trembling wrists laden with sweat,
as you tried to quench the torches
blazing against your hips.

Your Sahara lips twitched
with pleasure and relief
as you cradled him against your bosom,
but once your eyes raked over
his limp white body, his motionless chest,
your smile faltered and slipped away—
I never saw it again.

We wrapped him lovingly
in expensive laces and mahogany
and blessed him with eternal peace,
you collapsed but wouldn’t release his icy hand.

A haze of smoke and tears
eventually clouded the fire of your eyes ,
languid strands replacing golden, crescent locks,
budding violets blossoming on your unmarked skin,
I tried clasping onto your withered palms
and massaging life back into your graying fingers,
but one slip—
and your hand twisted free.

And now, with glassy beads trickling down
rivulets on my ashen skin,
my hands reach for your weathered wrists,
but only clench on thin air,
and I’m left with just memories
fading away like footprints in the sand.

A set of footprints extends off to the left. Another set extends rightward and forks into two directions, beginning where the first set begins.