A Miniature

In my numb mind, a little leather jacket,
the sleeve no bigger than a thumb drive.
In that diminished instance,  
I light a cigarette. I put on lipstick.
I’m a version of a self. I speak the truth.
As if speaking French. Haltingly.
Fast forward and it’s me asking air
to save me from the synaptic patterns
that dictate who I am alongside what I do
when under duress. I wear a red dress.
A coral neck scarf. A hand (not mine)
covers my mouth. Nature is never fair.
Someone sucks the air out of the room.
I am saying no more except to say
that the scale is tilted toward
accident. The accidental. The absolute is.

Copyright © 2020 by Mary Jo Bang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 16, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.