Size / / /

Like a bolt of green lightning,

it rises up into the clouds

from torn soil,

linking earth to sky.

Or perhaps we are merely

looking at its root end

and the misty garden above

is its anchor point.

Posh, says Ma. (She's still

mad I traded the cow away.)

Even magic seeds don't

work like that, boy—not

overnight, anyways.

In either case

from afar it must look like

God's finger,

the one He used when He

stirred forth the world's flora

from the first mud.

Ma, in fact, tries to claim it's beckoning

me, but I counter by reminding

her of the time I fell

from the hayloft and the fear

that remains.

There could be birds too, I argue.

The kind that likes to peck

at trespassers.

Ma blinks at me hard

with her one good eye.

Why you gotta go bring

that up, boy? Ain't it bad

enough we have no milk

to clabber?

This makes me feel gut-struck, so

I look away

from the towering pillar of green,

noticing for the first time

its twinned umbilicus of shadow.

When the wind blows,

it churns like a thin black tornado—

given proper gradations,

it might measure time.

Ma, of course, remains on her own

clock.

'I suppose,' I say finally. 'Not much

sense in dawdling further.'

You always was a good son, Jack.

Even with all that girl chasin'.

Now, git goin'. I've a real hankering

for bean stew.

Not much later, when the fat

castle giant comes crashing

down, crushing Ma like a worm,

I feel terrible, but the truth is

she brought this upon herself,

and it is going to take me days

to clear the hacked vine.

Of little help are the mocking

crows, with their caw, caw, caws

of remonstrance:

'Grow-a-bigger-sturdier-stalk.

Be-the-envy-of-all-your-peers.'

But then, with their appetite for paleness,

whether eyes, grubs, or seed, crows

have always been malicious birds.




Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
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22 Feb 2021

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