Grimace

By Heather June Gibbons

Featured Art: The Ouroboros by Theodoros Pelecanos

Regret does not descend in a cinematic miasma.

It hits like nausea, creaks back and forth

on a limited axis like one of those vaguely

eggplant-shaped metal cages you used to see

in fast food playgrounds across America.

Meanwhile, the sky unfurls its violent ribbons

and karate kids spar on the green. I am driving

or rinsing a dish, or picking zucchini, or whatever it is

I do now that I’ve outlived my misspent youth,

confused by the hair-trigger pairing of regret

and nostalgia, the head and tail of a snake stuck

swallowing itself in the relentless ouroboros

of endings that beget other endings, memory

like a waterwheel that we’re tied to, half-drowned

and just trying to make it around one more time.

Grimace, I embrace you from the inside.

The place is empty, let me stay awhile.


Heather June Gibbons is the author of Her Mouth As Souvenir, winner of the Agha Shahid Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she lives in San Francisco, CA.

Originally published in NOR 6

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