Unstill Life

by Rachel Girty

A garland of stratus clouds untacks
from its canopy. The sun dilates
into bruise red. It’s the kind of day
that makes people want
to throw the word want around.

In the porn studio, a thin
strand of blood keeps pulling
at the camera’s focus: the girl
hasn’t been taking her
birth control. It’s a difficult
time of year. Last night,

alone on the roof of her highrise
all she could think was how
time stifled itself in the elevator
ride up as it always does
on rides up and how
even under the stars her
vision gropes for the glow
of tungsten floodlights.

Downstairs, another girl, younger,
sits on the basket of towels for
tomorrow’s shoot, rocking with
the slosh of the washing machine.
There are windows. Light comes in.
It pools under the ceiling tiles
like standing water she can’t sop up.

There was a week last year when
she took so much Midol
her blood stopped clotting
and in the emergency room
no one had any answers to give
her so they just gave her paperwork.

Outside on the sidewalk she tore
the paper in half and half.
The scraps fell like shreds
of stratus, the wind not
strong enough to slip between
the paper and the pavement
and carry it all away.

Upstairs, telescoping tripod legs swim
their sounds across the ceiling.
The word want drips into her.

It rushes hard and unbroken,
like someone who’s never given
birth before but knows
exactly how to breathe for it.

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