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Arliene’s Apartment
Mayzie Sattler

As you sip from the cup, you notice the silent void in the room.
Is it there when she’s alone?
Does she talk to herself?
She’d rather a cat than another dog,
Where the silence may paw its way across the carpet beneath bare feet
And sink under swollen spiraling fibers imprinted by furniture.

Condensation on glass moves slower, the air is dense
With a heat, a stench, a fowl silence quilting the room.
There are no photos here you didn’t gift her.
Wrapped in paper, pinned by glass,
Their guild chipping at the corners.

Would other photos take their place, had you not given them to her?
Would other faces populate her tabletops as she pulls and prod at the corners of her mouth?
Or would the bedroom be void of these observers; she paces the floor unsupervised.

Speak softer.
Don’t you dare frighten her little pet,
Which coats tongues and softens blows. Its presence is deafening.
Patches of hair disappear from behind its ears; she is scratching the nape of her neck.
A stretch exposes claws usually concealed under pillows
Accompanied by nervous laughter and a heavy sigh.

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