by Melissa E. Jordan



Only that school was a fever dream — black frosting, bells sounding out of turn,

     high shrieks quickly muffled.

Skirt over jeans. Blue eyelids. Charged air and ten minute thunderstorm,

     ozone and ginger,

Tsunami of leaves flung against the cafeteria window.


Then we were wedged in the wheel well of her brother’s

     pickup, finished with


     and sweet looting, the

Black streets still wet enough to reflect

    skimming stars, shards of moon.

Maddie and Eugene were up front with him, I remember.

We passed

   her father’s experimental fields,

Slick with


     governmental insecticide.

She switched her skirt to the side

    like tossing a settled cat from her lap and

Staggered up against the racketing slipstream.

C’mon, she yelled and pulled me up


    — gypsies tonight.

Then, who knows why, we kept screaming it.

     Come on! Come on!     

Hurling the curse, the benediction, against water towers, service roads,

          the cider mill, the subdivision where my mother cleaned. I’m going


     the orchard path she said when

They dropped us at the shoulder. Less steep.

Last weekend we’d helped hang weights on the

    young pears and we heard them now,


copper striking copper. I set

My eyes on her surefooted paisley 

     progress, but when she turned her eyes were

Open sockets, just awful, and the

     wind wouldn’t stop.


Don’t think about it just walk through it she called but

I was already rooted, trapped inside

    the gnarled shadows and hammer blows.


She came back for me.

She set her thumbs at my waist,

    evened my lopsided sweater, began

Buttoning it, bottom to top. We were

    holding our breaths. A key was turning. Then she

Led me up away from the dark clanging trees.    



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Alison Scarpulla

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