It was close to midnight on Saturday, and I was driving home from a visit with Sandra, the two-lane country road wet from a November rain and spattered with leaves, when a girl came running out of the woods and dashed straight for my car. If only she could have been snatched up on invisible strings. Instead we collided, her eyes in my headlights, white with panic. You don’t forget the eyes. Continue reading “Lynn Levin: Evermay Blair”
When Molly Porter arrived home from work, she skidded around the last icy turn in the drive into a yard crowded with trucks: John Griffin’s rusty blue pickup, Mike Greeley’s classic Chevy, Victor Gianetti’s silver half-ton, and, of course, Andrew’s faded green Ford. On a summer evening or a Saturday afternoon, it would be ordinary enough for them all to be there, but this was six o’clock on a Tuesday in January. Continue reading “Alice K. Boatwright: Look Both Ways”
People at work asked how I felt when I found out, and I didn’t know what to tell them because of the ideas they already had about how I reacted. I know how they already saw me in their mind’s eye, a collection of home videos starring yours truly: a soldier’s wife staring out the window waiting for her husband to return from the war, or the tottering child in a domestic drama naively wondering what’s happened to his alcoholic mother. Most of all, they expected me to have cried, tears like diamonds running down my cheeks and settling on my Cupid’s bow, intermingling with rivulets of snot. This is how the arts ruin us. They set unfair expectations for how we’re supposed to behave. That’s why I don’t watch movies. Continue reading “Neha Tallapragada: KEEPSAKES”
There was a girl at Tuxchanie High School who had a reputation for being easy called Cricket, a nickname given to her supposedly because when she closed her naked legs while making it with a boy, she made a sound like that of the insect. I don’t know how many people even knew her real name. I had English II with her and even the teacher in that class called her Cricket. On the last day of class before the Christmas break, a rumor circulated that Cricket had tested positive for HIV, which caught on super-fast like all rumors in school. A secondary rumor to this main one was that dozens of upper level students, boys and girls alike, were ditching school to go get tested for STD’s at the county clinic. Anyone who had ever had sex with Cricket or had relations with anyone who had could be infected. Continue reading “Kevin Baggett: Cricket’s Boys”
I loved my mother, the first time she was alive, indulgently and deeply. Now that the mammoths are coming back, I love her just as much and at the same time I fear for the future of mankind. I don’t mean just the future of the species. I mean of each person, each life. Each death. Continue reading “Donald Mace Williams: The Point of Immortality”
Six foot explosion of slender leaves
from a forest island of fleshy
prods thick air with lascivious intent
here where Gulf Coast vegetation
grows profligate, an obscene flourish
that devours domestic walls
and subdivided perimeters
beneath heady sun and heavy heat.
Dense green sphere draws in,
absorbs air, oxygen, our frivolous
obsession with presence, leaves
a lenticular procession of transparencies
layering vertically until
waxy green smell fills the nose
from 40, then 60, then 80
years ago –
my grand-uncle Allen
in Puerto Rico leaves the sugar
company office, brushes by the slow
eager bushes framing the entrance.
Flame-orange origami slices
the accumulation of humid
hours, sharpens evening
to a razor red bleed –
I touch the unfolded petals
and feel the cut purse
of mercantile profits
spill through hazy years
when the career bachelor
assuaged worry with balanced figures,
stock prices, careful retirement,
the fleeting seagulls
basking in exorbitant rays
that expire beyond
each day’s seashore.
Kate Greenaway’s compendium
lists lilies for humility, innocence,
majesty, and falsehood;
the red rose for bashful shame –
familiar in my own garden
and past –
but nothing on the bird
of paradise, which I can
as calculating sensuality
that offers colonial memory
in the place
where guilt-free presence
spreads its lush fingers
Under a sky so blue it stops the heart,
low clouds as clean as kids ready for church,
they were haying in the narrow meadow
that stretched along the road that led to town.
In shade beside the road a pickup parked,
and an old man surveyed the scene.
A tall tractor pulled a bulky baler
that spat round bales, plastic wrapped, impervious
to rain; a man could make the crop alone.
In the rearview mirror that is memory
arose another meadow, another summer
An old tractor, older baling machine
chugging, tanned young men to hoist
the hay on the flatbed trailer
and stack it precariously high.
At the barn they packed the hay
into the loft up to the rafters,
and when the last load was done
they sat under the pin oak tree,
sweat painted tracks on dusty skin,
passing a gourd to dip into the keg,
feeling like they had won something,
and knowing how good tired felt.
The old man took a last look and pulled
onto the blacktop wondering whether
the driver cocooned in the tractor’s cab
would remember this as a perfect day.
He calls, and they wheel her to the window.
Drawn deep inside herself she sits, gazing
into a land only she can visit,
until he taps the glass to call her back.
The smile that charms him still lights up her face
and she returns to the present moment.
His nose almost touching the glass, he speaks
above the din of the busy highway.
It is his news report about the kids,
grandkids, and friends. Sometimes her face goes blank
and he sees someone eludes her memory.
It is not important; they let it pass.
Often, they lapse into a long silence
taking comfort in the other’s presence.
When she begins to drift away again,
he does not try to pull her back; instead
he blows a kiss and waves goodbye.
Only after he has turned away
does he allow the tears to streak his face.