by James Sands

it is all here on the inside, and
I cannot make it show on the outside
but sometimes the canned orange juice
tastes of burnt cinnamon toast
and there is a peeling, white barn,
and a black hole where the mottled door is ajar,
and a night flashing an indigo sky

that outlines a gray silhouette
of a woman I once knew,
who told a story of ants
that tasted accidentally of cinnamon
when unwittingly paired with saltines,
she too is peeling from mottled sunshine,
parked under a 1963 elm

behind the barn rough, brown planks
cover an empty hole, a cistern full
of memories turned dire warnings
no one could immediately recognize
among the peeling, cinnamon boards,
where shadows trick the star burst glittering
through a dark underbelly of green leaves

the shine is hypnotic when you are falling,
peeling away the cinnamon stick layers
burning and bitter in the darkness
a cold cup of forgotten hot chocolate
on a Christmas morning before breakfast,
before light can reveal ants crawling over tinsel,
and the peeling presents, gift wraps from a memory

photo credit: Karolina Grabows, Pexels