“The Tick-Tock Polka”
-Samantha van Zweden.

This is how I march my way through history –
nailing down my memories
to stop them from

My lover disappeared and came back to me in pieces.
I swallowed those pieces so I’d always have her near.
My insides groaned as the pieces remembered themselves
and tore at me to let them out.

My mother always told me,
“If you can catch a bird
and put salt on its tail feathers,
you get to take it home.”

I wanted to keep it in a drawer by my bed.

I found a swallow on the ground in our yard.
Its body was broken and still,
an awkward little nature study.

I put it in my drawer and salted its tail.
I pretended.

It wasn’t the same.

I loved a girl who forgot how to love me back.
She switched herself off and shut herself away.

Late at night I climbed through her bedroom window
and, while she perspired dreams,
I severed the fingers of her left hand
leaving her only a thumb.
Her butchered digits sit mute in my pocket.

Tying down.
Putting away.
Holding too close.
This is how I claw through time.