Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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A Temporary Bargain

by Richard Tornello

In the dark, scurry little pads,
quick, not to be stepped upon.
Holding fast,
her eyes made for the dark,
she rules.
Mine? I might as well be blind.
Adjusts to movement and only
So little light, little scene.
As she follows-stalks
I hear her behind me
I move, she holds.
I moved again and stopped.
Holding for her prey, she can wait.
to me she asks-states “are you not afraid?”
She looks w/weapons, tools of death, sheathed.
Others, waiting for her orders, ignored
she sniffs for the tell-tale smell?
She observes and asks again,
“Are you not afraid? Most folks when they are about to die,
have not a clue, just fear, and you?”
I, my fear hidden, well, almost resting
my mind in an easier fashion.
I answer, “fear yes, with acceptance too
reality, we are all borne to die. Does that answer
your question?”

She observes, I see a smile?
a sneer? A??
I can’t tell in this light, her black masked
face hiding her, identity, hiding face.

I think to myself, what she didn’t ask is what I fear,
most is pain. I’m not good
and what will?
my brain
as the energy ceases to maintain
function and flow?
She looks at me again, “Let him go. Next
Time, just,
when you will
never know, go
live like the rest,
fear, immobilized,
until it’s too
late to ask.”
She removes herself
her minions, and the stench of death
burning flesh about them ride off
victims in tow, upon their crosses
row and row, the river Styx.
Watching the lucky ones
They know their fate and I?
Await, among the not-yet-
dead, knowing
face to face I stared, and bargain made:
the cost;
the time to ponder, watch and wait.
the fear behind the not dead
eyes, the fear of life, fear of death,
the state of fear, a law, falsely controlled.

I awake, shivering in a hot sweat
The morning radio/news,
more obits from paid mouths flow,
the mourning radio as news.

© 2011 Richard Tornello

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