The days, you keep tying them to hooks on the ceiling. Clay ornaments on strings knocking together like wind chimes in a summer storm or the eerie jingle of the Good Humor truck driving by. Somehow both immediate and fleeting. They make the most delicate clamor
The noise sends me out of the house late at night after you’ve drifted off with the raft of our bed. I dig up the neighbor’s yard, catch raccoons in the garden, walk to the bar on the corner and ask the bartender for something, anything. I make the most delicate clamor
She ducks under the counter and pulls out a pickle jar. Small holes in lid. Label advertises Dill Spears. I am not afraid of the fluttering moths inside, their wings outspread, anticipating flight. I find you at the kitchen table when I return. We make the most delicate clamor
When I wake, I am lying in a field stretched taut over a hill. The knife in my hand gleams in the still-blinking dawn, and I see the patch I’ve cleared in the switchgrass—a circle on one end, two prongs on the other. Its shape reminds me of you. The fire is slow to rekindle, but it is rare that something stands between me and my day. Stags scatter from the creek bed when I move to gather blackberries and wild mint for breakfast. I stare at the flames as I chew and sip coffee. I write in my journal of last night’s Cheshire moon—how its malice kept me up too late—then I swear to the page that I will find a hill every twilight on my journey, and I will slash the switchgrass into that same shape. After a week there will be seven oracles. After a month there will be a knowing army. I say a silent prayer to the birds. That they will use the path of my men to find their way back. That they will whisper what they’ve seen in your ear.
It’s easy to idolize the women floating above you. The footlights set their sequins on fire; the music spins them between gasps and cables. You appreciate the simplicity, the reliance on ribbons, the swinging on silks. Their work is to be upside down, arms extended, hanging by an ankle to please strangers, and you blush to think you’ve complained about less. Of course the spotlight reveals the tent roof beyond, the spider web of trapeze to one side, still you keep the tangle of your gaze on the dazzle-skinned for fear they’ll float away.
foughtGrandpa tilled the fields out back with a hat on, the plow slicing through soil like a prow. He carried a pitchfork into the house to eat lunch. After he finished, he’d toss it on the table and say, “Well, I should get back in the water.” He fought pirates between church pews and soothed lions in the dark circus of the barn. For him, rest was a not-yet-smoked cigar in a pocket; faith was a dahlia bulb in a pot in March.
foughtGrandma dug the root cellar of our house herself. She told people she’d found a mammoth bone and dragged it to some bigwig in the city. I believed her. I believed her just as surely as I believed the Martian landscapes tucked between pages on her nightstand, or the dreams of her children tucked between clean sheets upstairs. She swallowed whole planets and then went outside to feed the pigs even when the icebox in the corner shook its head no.
foughtThey plotted their course together. No maps, no calipers—just using each other as their north star. They slept side-by-side each night on flypaper and still woke each morning to add rungs to their ladder. On Saturdays, they’d test its sturdiness by leaning it against the sky and they’d climb—Grandma’s bloomers would always show, but no matter. The people of the town would look up at them like astronomers, but call them boastful later. The pageantry, they’d say, was shameful.
foughtNow Grandma and Grandpa are the tin bathtub in the kitchen; they are comets drawn on paper; they are the sea air crackling around me as I tie my shoes.
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