Size / / /

I am taking Bill's flannels from the line

in silence

when she comes. A ship, a woman

dancing through the waving corn

six children in her wake

peeking through bladed ears.

The ship is hot; it backfires

in the last row of corn, and there is popcorn in the night

which isn't supposed to happen

here

in September

in our plain field of corn.

She is beautiful and large

in her walk. She offers me

blue grain, cupped in deep hands, spilling

like water. Five children each carry a sackful,

their smiles both light and grave.

She is gifted in thought

for she knows to offer us something

I understand. This I think

as she gifts me with coarse grain.

She pats the sixth child on the shoulder

to step forward and mime her needs.

The child lifts a cup to drink.

Turns it over—

mouth tugging a smile; we are watching her—

Empty.

I take only two sackfuls,

lead them to the river. The children flow behind us

grave and merry, and she walks

with me.

Me, I am bright inside with fire as I watch her

unwind hoses to irrigate the ship.

Her feet planted, hands dusty, she is

in grace as she finishes.

Her children stream back to their voyage

she behind them

I behind her.

And she lightly kisses me on top of my head

like a seventh child

and the ship is gone

popcorn firing around her.

I lie back on the plains, flannels caught to my breast

and watch her ascend

away from me

into a field of stars.




Tina Connolly (tinaconnolly@gmail.com) is a writer and face painter in Portland, Oregon. Her stories and poems have appeared here in Strange Horizons, as well as in Podcastle, GUD, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This story was inspired by an exercise at Ellen Klages' 2009 workshop at Hugo House in Seattle. Tina has a website at http://tinaconnolly.com.
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