Amanda Faith Poirier
Under the Flourescent Light
Under the fluorescent light, they browse the aisles in pairs. The serious shoppers
wear plastic smiles and bright colors; they shake rattles over our nursery beds. Like those
with gloved hands, they evaluate our reactions. Do we cry? Do we giggle? If we giggle,
they may pinch our cheeks. If they're chubby and we bare a dimple, they may pick us up
and smell our diaper. If they raise us up in the air and we spread our arms like an
airplane, they may squeeze our body against their body. It may be warm, unlike our
naked beds, and smell fresh like those who emerge from behind the swinging doors, in a
cart pushed by the ones with gloved hands. The serious shoppers may not let go and carry
us all the way to check out where we are rung up and taken out from under the
If they aren't serious shoppers, they may poke our bellies hard, leaving a purple
and blue spot. They may snort. There is a face only a mother could love. Too bad it will
never have one. They may lift us up into the air, smelling our diapers too, then wrinkle
their noses (what a stinker!) and deposit us back into our bed curt and cold. Then, when
they pick up our neighbor in the adjacent bed, smell their diaper, and say, like fresh roses,
We're jealous of the new make.
The rumors are mainly the same. We hear the new model has two dimples, a
softer spot on its forehead, a higher pitched giggle, longer lashes, and mismatched eyes.
We long for their features and we don't understand why.
We should not be resentful of the new make. We were all manufactured through
the same process — an egg injected by a sperm. It is a clean and professional process, free
of error. Still, our minds are overcome by the question: Are we less loveable than the new
We are bound in a blanket. We welcome its warmth. Then, we are put in a cart
and pushed through doors that swing. We enter a flat, ashen room. Light overwhelms us.
We want to whimper. We stay silent.
They place us in our new bed. It's larger than the last. We already miss the tight,
secure walls of the former bed. The shadow of those with gloved hands withdraws. We
close our eyes and wish for them to come back to us.
Later, when they return to feed us we smile, relieved. Within moments, they are
gone. We cry until they come to feed us again. This time we giggle simulating happiness.
They depart, we cry louder, until they come to feed us once more. We bite the gloved
hand, an impulsive act. They leave us unfed. We cry with regret and self-loathing until
we faint from the labor. When we wake, they check our diapers, they change our clothes,
and then they feed us. We don't like it, we hate it, but we accept it.
A rattle shakes. We look up, hopeful. A colorful pair wearing plastic smiles
approaches as those with gloved hands leave. We squeeze our fingers and toes together
with genuine glee, we think. When the pair with ungloved hands picks us up, we spread
our arms wide. We drool. They cradle us against their chest; we hear hearts beat, as they
squeeze us close. This is love, we think.
They deposit us in our bed and pick up another. We coo loud, too loud perhaps,
for they do not return. The pair repeats the actions, until they squeeze one they truly love.
Or, we wonder, have they simply grown tired of the fluorescent light and ashen, flat
Someday, when we return to the place under the fluorescent light, we will
remember the day we were here. We promise not to poke, tease, or snort before a nursery
bed no matter how distasteful its contents are. END.
The Murders. What Murders?
The white dust dams the Murders' wings as they ascend into the Airs. The
Murders, scabbed and stiff, cut and twitter. Into the thick, the Cloud of Loss loses its
balance. The Murders lament. Our sister is gone. They plait their wings into a blanket of
The Murders meander through Charcoal Mist. Unease settles. Unease unsettles.
In the smudge, a wake of beetles emerges. Their appetites awaken. The Murders open
their beaks. The Murders' last supper was when the sun rose and set, when reality
wedded reason. The Murders' sights contract. They chase the months through a
procession of snow, flakes of former moths, back to their sister.
Dear sister, dead sister, how did we lose you? The grime question slashes the
Murders' skins, as they dive into Shadow. The absence of answers agitates their insides
and deadens their desire to devour.
The Murders move through Shadow. Some spiral, others stumble, and all separate
like their mind.
Some Murders cry off: Beetles, moths, our sister, sweet sister, all are not.
We cannot despair! We cannot mourn! Other Murders cry out. We need to find
our sister's form! Or our minds will split forever.
They quarrel above the aftermath that is, was, and never will be the Lands. Parted,
they soar across Lifeblood River. Its current is cracked.
We must move on. Find food and water, some Murders cast off.
We must locate the threat, other Murders cast out.
The sand storm interrupts. A line of shattered soil slices the Murders' flight.
Their sights sharpen, hone in on a tree. Its bark is clawed, chewed off.
The tree was skinned alive, some Murders unraveled, reveal. Upon hearing rasps
of what they believe is breath, other Murders gasp: It's alive! Nothing's alive, some
Murders do not say.
The sand tornado breaks, like their minds, as they inhale the tree's sugary scent.
The scent attracts all Murders to the calcified crows spanning the sapped sapling.
Fly away, a whisper, a warning, is unheard or unheeded by all Murders.
The unsightly sight of the calcified crows does not hinder the Murders from
lingering above the tree's limp limb. The calcified crows collect close like the Murders.
Their crowns huddle and wings warm. The calcified crows' eyes are petrified. Their
beaks are parted as if they about to caw caution. Then death decided they would not.
The Murders. What Murders? Do not hear the whisper of warning. They've
forgotten their organs of hearing. An instrument so finely tuned they could hear a threat
approach from hundreds of meters away.
The Murders. What Murders? Forget their mission. They forget their wings that
are no longer flying. They do not realize they are perched, placed beside the calcified
The Murders. What Murders? Fail to see their sister. Their strong sights have
failed them. They did not show them the predator and they did not see that they were
The Murders? What Murders? Roar. Amble. Swim. Bark. END.
Amanda Faith Poirier received an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island. She does not tweet or snap and enjoys coffee, like most adult humans.