Burning Summer Days
Though wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, the garage was an oven in the July humidity. I lounged atop my father’s workbench waiting for the glue to dry. With the large corrugated metal door closed, I was baking. The red matchbox, the only entertainment, now empty, was replaced with a green lighter that I flicked with my thumb. Home alone for fourteen hours while my father worked, my fingers crinkly pink and red from torching last year’s 8th grade tests, notes and art work, I uncovered a large tub of Elmer’s glue and poured puddles across the cement floor—my stove top. Now with the glue dried and frying, one large glob sizzled and bubbled like a pancake so I picked it up with tongs and its drops bit my legs. That’s gonna leave a mark. Yet, the pink and white burns were nothing compared to the welts from my father’s belt left after he whipped my thighs and back when he returned home hours later to find the garage in smoke. My tools! My workbench! You little ass!
Thank you for asking me
to deboard before the launch
and for keeping the exit open.
With its red sign sting
and robotic voice count-
the flight seemed inevitable
and I wouldn’t have left
without prodding, without
my luggage that you
kindly carried to the tarmac.
Once you were out of sight,
the thundering echo of engines
silenced, the stars fell
from the sky and like a giant
page of connect-the-dots
they formed lines—my name
burnt into a cornfield
hundreds of miles away.
I bloomed again (how many
times can one bloom?).
Now I’m old enough
to know all harvests end,
myths are recipes for life,
and most rockets—raging
into the night sky—don’t follow
strict flight plans, and never
return to where they first soared,
instead, they plunge to the ocean
with chute open and a rescue
boat waiting to pull the crew
aboard. I never learned to swim
and I won’t be there to carry
you back to shore. I stay home
here in the corn—the sky
stays open and my neck
is no longer sore.
In your car leaving the small Baptist church,
you in tie and suit, me in my short blue dress,
you asked what I thought of the sermon.
I braided my hair, said how we were the most
attractive people there, but you didn’t agree.
You persisted until I lamented the hymns,
and you reached over to touch my thigh.
I brushed your hand away. The car disappeared,
so did the scowl, and I was propelling
down the street in a van with Holloway and Sean—
racing from Denny’s for we couldn’t pay
for that breakfast, and they kept passing the blunt
back and forth until they finally remembered me
in the backseat. Dizzy, I fell asleep. Minutes later,
I sat up straight and saw a semi with “England”
written on its back door, and I called out,
“How far have we’ve gone?”
They snickered and kept driving.
Because I wanted to wear that dress—
gotta dress up for church—I had shaved my legs,
and because I had shaved my legs so fast
without water or cream, they burned—raw and pink.
Cat Dixon is the author of EVA and TOO HEAVY TO CARRY (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014). She has poems (co-written with Trent Walters) in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her poetry and reviews have appeared in Sugar House Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Coe Review, Eclectica, The Lake, Yes, Poetry, and Mid-American Review.
Artwork by: Natalie Ciccoricco
Natalie Ciccoricco’s mixed media collages are original, analog works that mainly consist of embroidery thread and found images, which she use to weave together new narratives on paper. By re-using old materials, it is her hope to give them a new life and meaning.