Time is what keeps everything from happening
at once.–Ray Cummings, The Time Professor

The shrinkage strikes you before the dementia.
The Doll, not quite life-sized herself, is Amazonian
next to the wither of her mama. Cruel reduction,
the low tide’s inhale draws back flesh and muscle
to the bone and rattle of driftwood in warm paper bags.
Her Mama accepted fate like breakfast in the morning,
but Greta, next door, swam a blue distance
with a burning anxiety of placing the shore.
Outside the rooms of their lives, each instant
is everything: spring, the start of winter’s cold kiss,
the swelter of summer’s crickets with long days
crisp nights, and fear’s yellow leaves shuddering
in gutters, rustling the busy hum the wind plucks
in autumn. Alarm gongs in Greta’s head where
broken connectors, to her memory of forgotten,
touch every three to five minutes—evidence
the shredded nocturne of a mind tries to pull itself
together. She held my hand with the cling
of the drowning; part of constant newness
is a bold intimacy full of kisses and hugs for strangers.
I am looking for myself! She said, as we wandered
room to room searching for now or for a place
of familiar pier to tie this sinking ship.
Hello, Good-bye, pulse the watch of the day,
minutes apart, her own face forgotten.

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stephanie roberts has been featured in publications such as Verse Daily, Quiddity, Atlanta Review, Crannóg Magazine, great weather for MEDIA, and Arcturus. Born in Central America, she grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and has long held residence in Québec, Canada. This year, she is a BoxSet Series poet with Oxidant|Engine.