At first, the poison doesn’t hurt.
A languid coolness spreads through his limbs.
His eyes widen in the torch-flame pooled
around her face, refashioning the darkened crypt
into a cathedral of light. One more kiss, then spasms
drop him to his knees. A thud, dull against the stone floor.
When she wakes, moments later, trembling in the reverberation,
his soul has blossomed free of his world-wearied flesh.
Twenty-five of us watch over these deaths,
the students in rows never quite straight.
Tears roll down a few cheeks; a few mouths smirk.
I’ve let the audio play a moment too long—
the disc clamps the Friar’s voice. He’s intruding, too.
At the first trumpet-note, he’ll flee his grief and horror.
We all fly from the tomb eventually, lungs expelling
breaths we didn’t know we were hoarding.
A movement in the right corner breaks the stillness. Two students
have already left Verona. Jessica’s half-turned in her seat,
pen spilling ink never used for homework, inscribing a tattoo
around Enrique’s wrist. She’s already taken this class once—
the characters having the same bad luck all over again.
He hasn’t been this motionless all year. In five days,
his family moves him to L.A. The design swirls—
the pair so intent they barely remember to breathe,
the circle they fashion almost complete
in a silence broken soon enough, but not by me.
Photo by Anna Magal