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Children's ward.

On the bedside table there is a breath. There is a still flower spilling yellow dust. On the edge of his body a small boy lies, balanced between sleep and pain.

The hours are glass here. A white clock floats on the inside wall like a moon. In the half-light of uneasy sleep its ticking echoes the rain.

The nightnurse makes her rounds. She wakes one child for a pill, checks another's breathing. She stops and listens, and sometimes fades into her listening.

Somewhere a cough blossoms all night. A fever molts into a chill. Deep from the dark well of his body, goldfish surface in the boy's closed eyes.

How they shatter his reflected face. He thinks their arcing is meant to beckon, but as he falls he knows his dream is wrong. The goldfish have turned to vain pennies

lying on the well's brown mossy floor. Now he is gilled with memory. Now his name is taken from his wrist. He stands the rest of his life outside

in the delicate cage of rain, the keeper of the graves of his toys.
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Author:Crum, Robert
Publication:Chicago Review
Date:Jun 22, 1988
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