Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 52
beaver moon, 2023

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Tommy Dean

Voices Raised Against the Ravaging of Bodies

The father wields the shovel with no amusement in his rusty joints. And still, the son waits for the first jab at the earth, the incision of metal and thrust, of brute force that shatters the before and creates the after, until there is a hole wide enough for his slim hips and branching shoulders. The boy promises to live here, to take root, to twist in the wind and swallow the electricity of the sun until the mother returns. Says that now the father can cry, that his tears will feed the boys thirst, that they will both wait for the eruption of seed against the cells of the dirt, and neither of them shall wither while they wait for an ending even they couldn’t fathom under the pressing weight of so much undefined space.
In other backyards, feet plotted in the ground, holes they dug under the sharpened crescent moon, strangers branched their hands toward the sky, and waited for the sinking. No one knew why the earth relented, why gravity and erosion worked together on this night to pull at the human roots, dragging them into the soil. But here they stand, naked of technology, bared bodies shadowed into unfamiliar shapes, willing the gods, ghosts, or specters to till them into the softening ground. They chant, and flex, and rub their shoulders, waiting, an anxiety they thought they had eliminated. Voices raised in song, in protest, against an earth ready to ravage their bodies.
Years later, the tree split like a paper cut, shallow on the surface but deep into the meat of the wood. In the vein, the father found a pulsing heart. He needed to know what made it thump and how long it would last. The rain dripped in winged drops on the back of his neck, the grass tying around his ankles. Caught in nature's fist, he screamed until the pollen coated his throat.

Tommy Dean is the author of two flash fiction chapbooks and a full flash collection, Hollows (Alternating Current Press 2022). He is the Editor of Fractured Lit and Uncharted Magazine. His writing can be found in Best Microfiction 2019, 2020, 2023, Best Small Fictions 2019 and 2022, Laurel Review and elsewhere. Find him at tommydeanwriter.com and on Twitter @TommyDeanWriter.