Every evening, I wake up, and I count
boxes on a calendar, seconds on a clock
no different than sand trickling down an hourglass,
except for infinite circular rhythm, meaning
time is now a pie, cut into pieces and regenerating
like the moon, eternally growing back each piece.
Every night, I wake up, and I count
numbers, names, words, memories
and scribbling them down in haste, in a race
against the self I was yesternight, a scramble
to be better than the day before the day before
the day before. I count bodies, labels, titles, tasks
and I can’t help it, they need to be put somewhere
Every fresh new empty slice of ticking pie,
I am compelled with the work I created myself
I must count every spill of rice, every spice of life
every bit of sunlight that might seep into my dark life
and my hands ache but won’t stop writing
and my mind screams three other conversations while I do so
and if I leave it alone too long, the fabricated task looms like a weight
until it is done. Compulsion calls. Obsession owns.
Then I sigh with the task being done, slain for the day
wondering what I will do now, wishing to suffer it again.
Strange, really, how I once enjoyed counting for focus
for relaxation, even! To curl up in my little black cloak
like cozy bat wings, to name the things I remember, precious
as simply snacks in the night, fruit juice and bug blood alike.
Peculiar, really, how you can have eternity, and still fear of running
out of time. How the things we love ought not be feared
but oh how easily the little spirits, like itching mites in the brain you cannot reach,
build your own prison or puppet strings with them.
Every time, it gets me every waking immortal time,
how curses made comfy will confuse us to no end, like whether lamps
will hurt us like the sun. Like whether we show up reflected in some
pictures after all, more than others. How tricky it is, a cozy coffin
decorated exactly as you like, locked from the outside,
counting on you to lock it from the inside.
Ellen Huang (she/her) is an ace writer of fairy tales and horror. She reads for Whale Road Review and is published/forthcoming in Not Deer Magazine, Crow & Cross Keys, Wrongdoing Magazine, Wretched Creations, Pink Plastic House, Hallowzine, Truancy Magazine, Cauldron Anthology, and Enchanted Conversation, among others. Follow @nocturnalxlight on Twitter or worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com for more magic.