DJ Tantillo


Red, all of it.

The inside of her head glitters with reflections of constant sunset.
That’s what Lindin, Tildee’s younger sister, the one without sight, always says.

Together, they can tell which of the rich kids looking for pretty partners
will find one, whose physical beauty will not fade.

Tildee’s vision comes from within, in bursts of partial understanding.
At a glance, she sees future faces and their distortions

while her fingers and joints sting to the bone, pain paralyzes her—
in a few seconds, she knows and Linden feels the burning:

concentrated heat lights the sparks inside her head—
she can tell who Tildee knows will be beautiful

“That one,” she’d say, releasing Tildee’s hand then pointing.
The sisters never failed to make a match but only Tildee knows
that the future beauty will steal all of what that passerby has.

She tells no one, not even her sister that she can see action and intent,
that no one ever asks about the dark that matters—the unnoticed
dark matter between infrequent stars.

DJ Tantillo loves to study the complexity associated with his young children and with the mechanisms of chemical reactions. He does both in Northern California, where he is a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis. He is relatively new to the world of publishing fiction and poetry; his previous work can be found here: http://blueline.ucdavis.edu/2ndTier/3rdTier/FlashFiction.html.

Backstory:This poem arose from the author’s annoying habit of trying to guess what passersby will look like decades after they pass by. What if that sort of vision was a type of (mundane) superpower? Would it be of use to anyone? Would anyone pay for its application? Would it be used to serve the greater good or selfish desires? Would one with such power be exploited? Would anyone envy it? The author’s fascination with interdependency (human and chemical) and his experience in working with blind students shaped the characters. The title comes from a Sanskrit word describing the time of day when cows, returning from grazing, kick up dust that partly obscures the light of the setting sun.

Image credit: Cropped photograph of an Asian sunset (original by Tousif Ahamed Rahat/Wikipedia)

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