Issue #6 March 2016
Detail from Rubble by Amy Casey

Elizabeth Onusko

A Self-Contained Story

ends the way it began,
generating another beginning,
and in this way
plays god. The plot
is unimportant
but if you must know
concerns itself with
a coroner who believes
he’s located the soul
but really it’s
a teratoma.
No joke. Most of us
are experts at something
not of our choosing.
The management of
uncertainty is my forte
but I’d rather specialize in
butterfly studies.
C’est la vie.
Investors in my wellbeing
stopped expecting
dividends years ago
and have learned to love
my baking.
I left cranberry muffins
on the counter.
The key to happiness
is under the mat.
You’re free
to come and go
as you please.

Kingdom of Quartz

To test the might of their new machines,
astronomers beam into deep space
a recording of my voice
narrating a pharmaceutical commercial,

which satellites ricochet back
to listeners of an obscure radio station
who think they’re hearing the first
legitimate prophet in centuries.

In their fervor, they use
voice recognition technology
to identify me among the billions,
and thus I find them

camped out on my front lawn
one morning, equipped with
weeks’ worth of provisions
and in possession of a question

that has vexed them their entire lives,
which they throw at me repeatedly,
like roses. The answer,
I realize, is obvious

but unsatisfying, so I say nothing,
and this delights them more than
any explanation possibly could.
I go for a walk,

head low and humming,
and they follow me,
murmuring solemnly
about the epistemology of the path,

not noticing when we circle the block
for the three hundredth time
or when a July sunrise
exalts the quartz in the sidewalk.

Eventually, we return to my yard,
and they welcome me home
as if I’m a monarch.
I wave before going inside

and barricading the door,
for tomorrow or next month,
they’ll take up arms against me
and demand the answer.

Once they hear it,
they’ll turn on each other.