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(remixed from Where the Rubies Live,
originally published in Philadelphia Stories)


            love will look at you | out there, blending in, growing every second into something
—“Where the Rubies Live”[1]


I awoke in a diamond of sun. | Dad ran his pinky along the inner lip of a Jif jar, listening to the faint sound of | through the house forever. The station wagon left the driveway without | sweat | even a honk goodbye | of cells flooding away. I somehow believed my dad sold | my family.


But still I | stored my will to sell, as if past selves just stayed | struck up a too-slow conversation at the vending machines. This was when Jesus was | Nietzsche. It was the idea that my arms might grow long. | “There’s no room.”


I found a place beneath the bleachers | change in me I still can’t name. What about tomorrow? |Who you are, who you’ve been? This | ping through the garden. I thought about how I’d learned in | sound. “Can I do the next part?” | A light about to go out.


Kiana welcomed me to Lacuna Park. | All day long I had been saying goodbye to tiny parts. Offer a handshake | she wouldn’t look away. The length of a | ask. The skin from a | “Listen.”  Words | none of us understood. Watching for growth | were Time and Faith, | crooked stubs. | Her dad sold these too.


Freckles alive with sun, with knives long as our forearms, we sliced into the | hot. I prayed silently. | “What’s a cult?” I said, held my breath, and | opened the briefcase. | Snap peas sprouted along the fence, baskets of herbs hung. | “That’s a neat little dance,” said an old lady at the end.


The true self | stood still, staring through all of her plants. I had | wingspan.


I waved behind the window but | into existence.


[1] “Where the Rubies Live,” Tyler Barton, Philadelphia Stories (Summer 2019, print), page 10, line 21, read across the margin (gutter) of 2 adjacent columns of text. All text in story sourced this way. Each “ | ” represents the gutter. Other punctuation removed or added as needed.