He had written of the rains, the creeping fog, a faint sun over scarred earth, frozen fields strewn
with rusting heaps crisscrossed by endless strips of tar.

Now he listens, day after day, to a bald head in a bare room that doesn’t change.

Between these walls, this congregation of the maimed.

They will not let him out or let him explore other wards.

Caught between the two states, he would almost rather die than stay another moment in the elongated somewhere.

Drab walls, stale air, bloated hours. Flies on standard-issue curtains.

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Michael Washburn is a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist and the author of the short story collections Scenes from the Catastrophe (2016) and The Uprooted and Other Stories (2018).