When my cousin set himself on fire, I knew it was the voices.
Voices high as windchimes and the harps of angels, cold and perfect, green glass; baritone voices steaming underground through a complex of copper pipes; voices with their dangerous undertow. He heard them and he listened. They came from the mouths of birds and gladioli, other people, himself; they read from the newspapers and the bible our grandmother had given him.
What the voices wanted was not death but annihilation. They wanted to prove that no one would answer.
Taylor Altman holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Currently, she is a law student at Berkeley Law School, and lives in Berkeley, California. Prior to law school, she worked for the educational non-profit QuestBridge and taught English at a community college. Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, Notre Dame Review, Salamander, and elsewhere, and her chapbook Swimming Back was published by sunnyoutside in 2008.
Artwork: Gustav Klimt, detail of “Medicine,” 1900-1907