The last bullet stops, the others pause before consummation. Legs broken, lung burst, skull just beginning its final unfolding: the gentle yellow haze of the streetlights halts its molecular shiver. Her book has come undone, glue, spine, pages ripped loose by the first rude volley.

Centralia never falls, never settles. Forever in the act of falling, clothes slipped loose of gravity. Cars do not pass, heads do not finish turning, arms never quaver, sirens never blare.

Fire in the steets, or the shape of fire. Her hair continues to smolder, an unceasing blister, her veins run with heat, her buildings condemn. She will not leave, cannot leave, pinned to these hills.

There is another world, perhaps, before or after this one: she falls, she cools. The shadows lengthen. A street sweeper scours her blood away. Time or justice claim her killers. Another world, but not this one: here the last bullet stops just this side of her skin, here her heart stutters and waits for some final sign, here the choir never resolves.