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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

A 1,000 Piece Puzzle


by Christine Taylor

After dinner we have time
Daddy’s feeding tubes cleaned
his pillows fluffed
so Mommy, Paula, and I
spread puzzle pieces
on the basement tile floor.
Manicured gardens surround
an old clock tower.
I like puzzles with animals
Mommy likes this kind best.

We arrange the pieces into piles:
greens, shingles, edges. Paula
takes the purple ones for herself.
We join the border first
long lines like arteries connecting
the four corners
then we tackle the piles
eyes squinting to find the points
where one flower melds to its stem
one brick mortars to its mate.

I work on the clock,
black hands on a white face.
When will the time come
for Daddy to go back
to the hospital? I force
two mismatched pieces together
ignore the slight gap. When will be
the last time? I hide the pieces
under the lid of the box, move on
to others waiting to be matched.

The next night, the mismatched pieces
have been joined,
the face of the clock complete.
In an hour, Daddy will need
medicine. We build around
the clock’s face stuck on six.

Header photograph © Asher.

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