Elinor Ann Walker
She leaves the sewing sisters inside with their baskets of endless yarns, the years winding around, threads keeping them tied to beds and kitchens, tiptoes past the sentinels of preserved tomatoes, beans, pickles, and peaches to the yard where the matriarch of the cats, her tail twitching in the dust, lies nursing her usual litter of too many kittens—always too many—and past the corn field to the last barn at the woods' edge where the door is always ajar to the room where the sun slants between boards that do not quite fit together, and eyeholes in the wood reveal dust, motes of hay, where the contrast between the late fall burning sun and interior darkness requires her eyes to adjust to the sight of a grandmother leaning over a watering can as if divining something on that long-still stagnant surface which does not reflect her face but only her wavering as if she too is slipping, leaching away through the split sides of anything that can't contain it any longer than the barn can keep out rain splattering onto the swept patterns of dust on a floor where too many feet have come and gone without knowing why,
shoes and souls.
She leaves the sewing sisters in the dust past the cornfield and the endless dark. There is only her wavering, ajar, the years winding around in swept patterns. She is divining something, nursing the split sides, always too many, keeping the barn out of the rain, leaning over the kittens and the beans, finding her way into the sky.
This Fishing in the Air
title from Linda Gregg's We Manage
Most When We Manage Small
My father never took me fishing. Perhaps he craved the solitary quiet of a still lake at dawn, mist rising over the water, hugging the banks. Or perhaps he saw my expression as he scraped the fish, the scales flying like tiny prisms in the sun, glint of knife. Or when he gutted the fish, expertly, how their innards shone brightly over the gray rock where he cut them, glistening threads of red and purple; occasionally a sac of eggs like a yolk would spill out, split open. Or that he remembered how, when I asked to see the deer he'd killed, my expression fell away from my face just like that deer's head sagged over the back of the pick up's bed, empty-eyed. I guess he did take me fishing once, the time he flipped over the boat and a copperhead lay coiled beneath it, a shimmer of gold and brown, and with one blow from the axe he kept in the truck, he cut off its head. That's mostly what I remember, thinking about death. When he was dying, I wish I'd asked him if he were afraid, but instead I was the ghost in the room, not knowing how to say the words aloud, thinking I'd have more time. He was drifting. Sometimes I imagine I'm sitting with him in the boat with the trolling motor off, the bow listing toward the bank, the only sound the muted splash of a turtle slipping off a log. The lake tells me everything I need to know, its gentle current arcing along until on a windless day, mirroring the sky,
Mist rising over the room, the muted splash, the trolling pauses, fishing. I am the ghost hugging the banks, sitting with him in the fog, the shimmer of once. I imagine I have more time, more time, saying the words aloud while the lake tells me
a turtle slipping off a wonder,
death mirroring the water,
With him more. Empty-eyed. I who am drifting.
Elinor Ann Walker
's recent work is featured or forthcoming in Nimrod International Journal, The Rappahannock Review, Plant-Human Quarterly, Black Bough Poetry, Northwest Review, Wordpeace, Pidgeonholes
and Whale Road Review
. A Best Microfiction and Best of the Net nominee, she lives with her husband and two dogs, is the mother of two young adult sons, and prefers to write outside. Find her online at elinorannwalker.com