Heart-stopping by Richard Baldasty

The nomads departed, quietly as nomads often do, not saying goodbye, leaving us willow baskets they’d filled, some with stones the color of noon, some with stones the color of twilight, and some with the song that rises from fathoms deep of perfect darkness.

We packed their gifts away. Put them in the room for treasures. Went out for a drink with friends. There was a game on the big screen, shadows from it playing across long shelves of pretty bottles behind the high counter. An important match, world semifinals: nobody dared interrupt. We couldn’t speak what was uppermost in our thoughts.

It was that final verse from the song of perfect darkness, the one about loss that can never be anticipated yet somehow, a heart-stopping moment, one already helplessly and completely understands.

Richard Baldasty’s poetry, short prose, and art have appeared in Pinyon, Epoch, and New Delta Review among other literary magazines. Recent work online: text/image at Empty Sink Publishing, Shuf Poetry, and Burrow Press Review; collage in Foliate Oak and Gravel. He lives in Spokane, tweets on Twitter @2kurtryder