Size / / /

A students' lounge. Carefree college freshmen

sitting in candlelight converse with all

the passion and the bubbling confidence

expected of their years. Tossing beers, they chat

about dreams and would-be conquests, breaking off

as a hooded waiter approaches, deferential,

and hands to each, enfolded in black napkin,

his individualized misfortune cookie.

Dean paralyzed by stroke at fifty-seven;

total blindness coming up for Jess.

Alcoholism then suicide for Courtney,

lung cancer within two decades awaiting Simon.

"Home lost in Texas hurricane," reads Jill.

"Arrested for embezzlement." (Oh, Aidan!)

Bryce paraplegic before the winter's over;

Darcy's future daughter killed in plane crash.

Silence, and thoughtful digestion of disasters

coiled like ghostly embryos in time's womb.

All hearts accelerate as cheeks pale. Dean

exhales in mock relief. "Hey wait, but that's...

in forty years, if it happens, so why worry?"

Bryce, shaken, as his nemesis is nearest,

vows to drive more carefully from then on.

Simon, sobered, tosses out the cigarettes

in his pocket, while Darcy wonders if she

should even have the daughter if this means

losing her to tragedy so young.

No tears, just plots to keep the moving finger

from writing their scary scripts. No doubt, rewriting,

from early changes in lifestyle or location,

could mitigate the final fate that jars

and wounds and wrenches, and thus blanches

courageous souls anemic. However well

we live, however high we build our walls

or word our prayers or plan our menus, in

Madonna's material world there'll always

be misfortune cookies, passed around

early, late, or anywhere between.

Happy the person offered only one.

Lark is originally from California but has lived in Peru for over half her life, along with her Peruvian husband, as an ESL teacher. Over the past several years, a number of her poems have been published in online and print journals. Lark can be reached by email at
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