Paper Cranes
Jenna Bryant


He spills words onto creamy cellulose sheets
squeezing them in the spaces
between thin blue veins, uniformly stacked,
marred by coffee stains and poor penmanship
corners curling, edges torn,
a roadmap of wrinkles on parchment skin

his pen scratches tributaries of ink
outside the lines
swirling eddies of ideas
that flow from calloused fingertips

then he
crushes the page in his palms
packs it tight, like making snowballs,
arcs it toward the metal wastebasket that
spills over with discarded thoughts
sentiments he’s tried on for size, rejected,

left for dead
along the weed-choked sidewalks
of his crumbling intellect

he’s drowning in his own ingenuity

(at least, he says so,

Later, she
eases open the door and
sweeps the bread crumbs from the writing desk
sits cross-legged on the oriental rug they found
in that antique store a lifetime ago

(at least, it feels that way,

and she
folds paper cranes
from the balled-up pages he cast aside
transforms them into a child’s kind of beautiful
while he sleeps
slumped in his straight-back chair
pen held slack over half-blank pages

In the morning they’ll line the windowsill—
origami birds that fit in palms and coat-pockets
their bodies scarred with blotchy tattoos
stale ideas tucked in their crumpled wings

bowed heads illuminated
by a soft pink sunrise

mocking him
with their translucent