Alice as Monarch
Alice left Mexico with the first generation of her family, opened her wings in hot dry air and said please let me make it.
She rested on Milkweed, had lavish dinners in the dusk, watched white trails of her younger species. And Alice became those younger generations as other Monarchs who knew what to do with their bodies from a deep lush memory.
She cocooned on an old woman’s porch who smoked tobacco long into the night after the light had left her, after everyone had left her, and she would sing to Alice’s cocoon and Alice would sing back. A gooey, mid-metamorphosis song, but a song none the less.
Being a Monarch is hard and Alice knew this and her brothers and sisters knew this and it is getting hotter and it is getting less green and there is always so much noise but still, how great, for even a fleeting moment, to turn the sky orange with their wings.
Alice locks her keys in the house
Let us set the scene.
It’s Tuesday but she thought it was Thursday, and her lunch blew up in her work microwave and got onto her pants and Debbie watched as she cleaned it up but didn’t help or say oops in the nice voice everyone knows to use when someone’s lunch blows up in the work microwave.
Her house is white and the windows have red shutters which tap slightly in the wind. In mid-October, the rain cannot decide how cold it should be. The slush builds, waters, wades, builds, back. She’s not wearing the right shoes and is willing away the wetness from her thin socks. Since she doesn’t drive but had already walked to work in her not right shoes and walked back home feeling damp and defeated, that’s when Alice realized she locked her keys in the house. This is what it could mean:
Alice could move. She could sell the house whole as a buttoned up catacomb. The buyer gets everything – her gardening clothes, the plants, rugs for her elderly dog, strawberries in the fridge, compost on the counter – but there is more than that – the buyer can have the cats in the cat tree and the Hershey kisses in the cabinet, even the water in the ice cubes, it is all for sale. She could move across the country and fill in “inaccessible” under previous address, never directly answer questions about her prior dwelling. She could write letters every month to her empty house, letters of longing and grief and maybe even happiness for moving on. She is already imagining the mailbox expanding.
Or, Alice could ask the neighbor politely to borrow his car. Not explain the wet shoes or the stained paints or a damn thing to Kevin who she knows can’t even drive because he is older than dirt, older than Alice. She could put his car in drive and aim for the wall and blast a new door straight into the living room. Place a clear tarp over the hole and call it contemporary.
Or, Alice could break the bathroom window. Cut the screen with a hatchet and warn the cats she is coming in. Go ahead and make artichokes for dinner and shame drink a Diet Coke and play Donkey Kong until midnight, toast to Debbie and drink a Diet Coke for her too.
Or, as the water seeps further into Alice’s shoes and she bends down to check if she is taking on water, her keys could fall from her hood, where they had been resting, and hiding, and probably laughing.
Olivia Kingery is a farmer of plants and words in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University where she reads for Passages North. When not writing, she is in the woods with her Chihuahua and Saint Bernard.
Artwork by: Philip Ackermann