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Arlene Ang decorative flourish <em>Yesterday was blue, like smoke</em>

Winter invades fingers with nicotine,

the yellowing of uncut nails.

I wheel Miss Gilda out for fresh air,

watch her coughs flounder steam

like souls of dead fetuses.

There is no changing her mind:

doctors are depraved men who watch

stripteases behind the cloakroom,

finger the secret sex of carcinoma.

I am the new caregiver and don’t argue.

She talks incessantly about dying,

how her body refuses to host white lies.

I know there has been another trip

to the weighing scale. All of a sudden,

I am the one with difficulty swallowing.

You’re a good girl, Ros. She whispers

hoarsely before caving in to spasms

against her embroidered handkerchief

as if expelling jewels into fabric.

Sometimes I glimpse rubies.

I let her smoke another cigarette.

Like a henchwoman in white, I shiver

from the cold. My heels clock seconds

on the pavement. Fog cannot muffle time.

– Title taken from Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”.

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Arlene Ang lives in Venice, Italy where she edits the Italian Niederngasse. Her poetry has recently been published in Eclectica, Mudlark, Poet’s Canvas, Tattoo Highway and Amarillo Bay. An e-chapbook of her poetry, Dirt Therapy, is being hosted by Slow Trains.