First. The waking hour. The long preamble. Long day before short night. (Or is it the other way around?) Today rots into yesterday so quick. Now and then or then and now? I take my time, scraping mold from the toast. Nostalgic for a shitty past. What the fuck is this present? The windchimes on my neighbor’s balcony ring too loud, too often, too early, too ringing, too much, too much too much too much.
Second. It is just after noon, not quite afternoon, and when do people stop saying good morning? At the thought of breakfast, my stomach turns. Turn an hourglass upsidedown, if I had one. Turn an hourglass rightsideup, if I knew which way that was. The sky is blue and then it is not and then it rains and you might think my neighbor’s windchimes would drown in all that cornflower syrup, would maybe sing themselves out under the tar-black, would perhaps stop, listen, understand the weeping clouds’ cries that make my frail sins wither, coil, and writhe under sod—but those metal pricks never shut up.
Third. Post dinner but pre everything else. I have half a cake burning in my freezer. That’s what the kids like to call a metaphor. No one calls. Can I write about sex if I know my family will read this? All at once, I feel too young and too old and tooinbetween. It’s my birthday, soon. A coming of age, if you will. Will you or won’t you and where was I headed? Clock says today is yesterday again and I forgot I ordered an hourglass online. It arrives so, so comically small. I take my time, unfurling its plastic, feeling its weight settle into my palm. How do people know when something is rightsideup or upsidedown and is now then or is then now? I don’t want a midnight snack. Let cake rot. Goddamn windchimes.
Courtney Ludwick is a writer, artist, and doctoral candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at USD, where she teaches writing courses. She holds an MA in English from Texas Tech University and has served as an associate prose editor at Iron Horse Literary Review for the past two years. Her words have appeared in Watershed Review, Oxford Magazine, Milk Carton Press, and elsewhere. Most recently, her visual art has shown at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. You can connect with Courtney on Instagram @courtlud or on www.courtlud.com.
Artwork “Filing System,” by Phillip Temples
Phillip Temples is still trying to make sense of it all. Writing and photography help. He can be followed at https://temples.com or on Twitter @PhilTemples.