July 4, 2013

Penny Harter

BLUE SKY

On weekends when the woman walks up hills, she does it to see the sun. At sea level, thick smog obliterates the sky, a gray and toxic smothering. Despite the altitude, once she gets above it she breathes easier. She has not seen such a blue sky from down below since childhood.

masquerade party—
strangers crowding into
a downtown loft

When she tries to get some of her co-workers from the factory to climb with her, they merely laugh. “But you can see the sun,” she exclaims. “And the sky is blue!” Her friends prefer the mall or the movies, so she climbs alone.

shooting star—
how briefly its wake
marks the dark

Years pass, and she has to climb higher and higher. Having retired, she can climb more often, but it’s slower going now. One day when she arrives above the timber line, stumbling among rocks shining with lichen, she is breathing in stabbing gasps. Soon she will be too old for this, she thinks. Head spinning, she clings to a nearby boulder and stares up into the blazing heavens. Then she looks down at the tide of gray creeping up the slopes. She knows it is only a question of time until she will be forced to go up and up.

moon colony—
again, the supply ship
arrives late

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
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