Be kind and not angry.
She is surprised by your tolerance.
The seal suctions your face.
And simultaneously you suck in your breath.

At that point you find
that she has sucked in all the breath.
You are bereft without oxygen.
All the breath.
There is no more
in the capsule that you occupy.

Then all of her lungs expand.
How has she gathered so many lungs?
You feel panic filling you.
There is no respite for the tester rat.
Is this it?
Is this the end, so cliché?

All the true things are cliché.
All the women worth touching, and
all the anecdotes worth recounting.
You are
bereft without oxygen
and she lends to you
no respite.
She cannot.

The short-circuit report goes straight to corporate.
Doesn’t it always?
You find that
this is the way.

Header photo by Zach Welty.