What can you do but run through them? Run around the tar lot while the squirrel sits nick-nicks its tail over live wires. Run while oblong leaves stalk. Run while the wind thrills, and a car comes to the lot for no reason and parks. Flick your chin over your shoulder, check, the nick-nick of the squirrel tail over the power, brush, the wind surge at your throat; the car sits with blind eyes. Pit panic. Check. No door wings out. Not yet.
The flick of clouds assigns nothing to you. Spells nothing. Haul over the clobbering earth. Flick. Surge. Run. Deep pockets turn inside out against the slight glow. Saints incline in woody trunks, or something like their desire. They whistle. The car moves, contained, drifting off, not intentioned at you. Nick-nick. A whst. One fibrous headless stalk. Funnels underneath eat into elements, under quick, heeled clouds.
Abortifacients: One Skewed History
The packet women didn’t traffic in tragedy. Their hides no hide. Before then, the lizard-tongued laughed inside tunnels, relieved that they had selected their own eggs. They discarded some and wrapped themselves around others. Always they bled, sometimes too much. None of them preached. Everyone had a plan to hatch. Needles, paper horns, and angled packets, sometimes delivered by mail.
I try to sleep. When the lid goes down, in the dark everywhere, I stumble. Stacks of boxes make a throat to enter. I don’t.
I flick the TV on instead to while away. Drop off. Get out. But it’s “Golden Oldies,” gumming funds of yesteryear. The voices croon in pity for my father, who couldn’t sleep without the jaggering AM radio. Cranks raged away remotely. More soothing than the dark swallow all alone. Wide snore down the hall where I lie, bunked. The box calls back.
“Give ’im the hook,” someone would finally say, and laugh. Now nothing evicts early, much less the start.
What would it be to shed my layers, my peasants’ clothing, my tatters of fleece, my wound cotton? Not to be naked but to reach skin not shaved or scarred, and emerge? Would the sky know? Would my surfaces moisten?
I would float walking under a bank of air. I would soothe knots. I would hanker for nothing, and tubers would envy me. Blouses of air wend away in full campaign. Open and open without expulsion into the blue over bare trees.
Would graves empty? Would campaigns seal? The army might not pursue me because I’m not bound and not fleeing. I will have sloughed off hard patches, relaxed the warps underneath, down to the pouches where no thoughts go but only water and pulse. Kinless invertebrate, will I recognize myself coatless, unknotted, unbroken, warm, without concept, unregretted and unmapped, still here.
Jean is a professor of English and women’s studies at Vassar College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature and Art History from Indiana University, a master’s degree in English and creative writing from Stanford University, and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia. She has attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and has been to the AWP on multiple occasions. Jean also enjoys drawing and frequent visits to her family back home in Indiana.