The microwave is playing tricks again,
smearing time around like fingerpaint.
0:03 suspended on the screen, stuck when
it shouldn’t be. This machine. Pumping heat
into the chamber as long as there’s time.
And you another machine—you live by
negotiating temporaries. You try not to
count down. You can uninvent chronology,
imagine the room slipping apart the way
your face slips around itself on the back
of a spoon. 0:02. A lurch like mornings
without memory of dreams, stuck
in the shame of having rifled through
the pantry all night, mind closed, dehydrated
and reading the backs of boxes, cans, anything
that might have a few glints of iron. Pacing.
Chewing wet washcloths and ice until sunrise.
Hours lost like jewelry down the drain.
0:01 and the break room wraps back around you,
quick as illusion. Time up. Door open. Light.
The meat not cooked enough. You have to force
yourself to wait things out. Disaster is so easy.
So much is more natural than waiting: panic, harm,
setting an alarm but forgetting to blow out the candle.
Rachel Ann Girty studies creative writing and vocal performance at Northwestern University, where she works as poetry editor of Helicon magazine. Her work has recently appeared in Imagine This! An Artprize Anthology, Perfume River Poetry Review, Sixfold Magazine, and Body Parts Magazine. An alumna of the New York State Summer Writers Institute, she is a recent recipient of the Jean Meyer Aloe Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the Robert A. Dentler Award. She was born and raised in Michigan.