Winter, we both know where this is going.
I no longer have a bone
left to tongue. Your promises–
too desperate, bright–
the way you clutch my body–
too tight. When I huff “let go”
you blow, you flatten lawn into lily
pulp, crumpled origami. Oh
fine then, rage, spend yourself,
slam the door so hard
it can’t close. Tomorrow,
sun glued to my head
like a hangover, I may
marvel at the juniper roots
you’ve heaved from earth,
may admire the shivered fir
bare as dendrites freed from skin.
Like a moth bludgeoning
again and again the naked bulb
I will scrape away your white debris,
unleash trombones, early tulips
stampeding through dirt.
Hungry as forgetting,
The Greening waits,
ready to spring. I will
greet it with fingernails
packed with loam. I will
roll up my chambray sleeves.
I will invite it in and lick
the honey-gloved spoon
before stirring our teas.
For more realistic training, fire departments sometimes burn structures that are destined to be torn down, such as commercial buildings, residential homes and barns.
-Ohio EPA Training Manual
Two pairs of shoes
peer out of the closet
in the children’s room,
the walls a clash of primary colors
and thumbtacked pictures—trapezoidal torsos
balanced on top of orange leg posts,
lopsided orbs for heads, scarecrow eyes,
smiles jagged and wide as if carved.
A stuffed dog guards the door,
the drapes are closed against morning.
Someone has made the beds—fitted sheets,
top sheets pulled taut, one comforter covered in clouds,
as if to say falling asleep
is just that, just falling,
the other comforter depicting some flying superhero,
black lines describing an invincible fist.
You want to read the mannequins
a bedtime story. You want to
complete the ritual of tucking them in:
smooth their plastic hair, wipe their plastic mouths,
kiss their perfect, poreless foreheads,
draw the blankets up to their forever smiles,
lie to them so hard about how the world is fair and true
that for a moment you believe it too.
Your hand doesn’t stop working
the canister and hose, doesn’t stop
spraying gasoline on the rug, the beds,
the little shoes in the closet,
the closet door. You have a job to do.
You’re pulling the book of matches out of your pocket
as you ease into the dark hall,
unable to keep a ‘goodnight’
confined behind your lips.
Todd Dillard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, most recently in Flapperhouse, Cotton Xenomorph, Superstition Review, Nimrod, and Cease, Cows! He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.
Artwork by: Olivia Pridemore
Olivia Pridemore is a multi-dimensional artist based in Nashville, TN. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Silver Needle Press and teaches writing courses at Austin Peay State University. Her works have appeared in Portland Review, Permafrost, Sand Hills, Bridge, The Ocotillo Review, The Raw Art Review, Round Table, Ampersand, and elsewhere.