for Rachel Fleming
In the markets of Underground.
They sell memories, lists, images: paintings, filth, books half-written. Their collectors, clever-handed rats, comb through garbage cans and drainage ditches, old men’s faces pursed in disapproval. They do not bathe; human scent lies heavy as fog over their stalls and impregnates the things they sell.
You have found your way here by chance, all your carefully curated Art tossed aside. You turn at random, follow purposeful-seeming passersby, turn your eyes from street signs already half-obscure. You have been trapped in the strength of your own desire; perhaps in abandoning it you may reclaim it.
“Rage,” one cries, voice tinny through the translator. “Rage for sale.” Rage is a heavy flannel shirt, stained and wet, reeking of beer. You try it on for size; several sizes too small, it fits perfectly. “Never used.”
It looks at you while its collector curls around your ankles, wizened hands plucking at your socks. “Yours for the taking.”
You clench your hand; the shirt, warmed to you, cracks against your shoulders. There is something there… you reach for it, but it dissolves and you are alone in your office, wearing someone else’s clothing.
“Perhaps not,” you say.