Turning to Stone
by Ada Hoffmann
I'm slowing down, or else the city's
speeding up around me. Paint-bright people
whirl along the many-cornered streets.
Your walk, my friends, becomes a fire-dance.
You point, you lean to whisper with each other.
Neon lamps play tango with your eyes. I struggle
forward. Once or twice you break your stride
to question me.
How do I like these violet candies in
the storefront? Or these cartoon-colored speed-line
cars, too far outside my skin to dream
about? You want to watch my belly hatch
the words. I try. I draw a breath. Time flees,
and when the sound begins, you've run too far
ahead to hear.
What shall we give you?)
I cannot walk. I'm looking at my leaning
hand against the red brick shop-side wall.
The knuckles stiffen. Nails grow thick as marble.
Something gray and cold spreads underneath
the skin in place of blood. My eyes crust over.
Mind and body slow and stop together,
and the world is only motion. Maybe
you've returned by now. I wonder if
I hear you shouting:
(Show yourself! Speak to us!
Can't our hands soothe you?)
I think the sounds will drown me. Something hardens
in my lungs. I have to stand as still
(Have you found wisdom
in unending silence?)
and fling my mind behind me
(Stone woman! Snake-caught,
what punishing god
have we mocked
to deserve you?)