Winter stasis, pigeons bubbling nearby. A beloved tree is listening, listening to all
of it. I pass the watercress pool almost daily, the spring is formal, always warm to

sandwich my greeting. A teenage bull volleying a conniption for liberty. I stop
to tell the farmer one of his children has taken the road. Bufton Hollow, where his

herd sports bells — He’s an old fashioned farmer. I’m the nice Black lady that lives
up the road everyone knows about, writes at the casa with passerby bohemians.





There’s an ancient cave to the left. I don’t know how far back it goes, but the
entrance feels decent. On hot days the cows from another farm gather at the

smirk of it for cooler air — they don’t go inside, not that I’ve seen, in honor of their
small society of established bovine fronts. Plato’s sour cave, by familial animal

logic, they avoid western philosophy, following the bluestocking grasses. A
dignified heifer leads the bright calves to the practical clouds of sustenance.







I brake my Santa Fe about 15 feet away to look at her. A barred owl in the late
afternoon, sanctifying common fatigue from labor — very much alive and well.

She moves from a swollen road to black ash tree. We look at each other. We’ve
met before. We held hands and jumped overboard after the galley crew raped us.







I see you mirror me. It’s not a coincidence. A quote from James Joyce. “Absence,
the highest form of presence.” After you left, I took walks past a graveyard and in

the front row of graves was a tombstone with your name on it, prearranged for
me to know when I was ready. How do you bury a ghost of a ghost? Nothing is

buried here except words. You have no body, no mouth, nothing. Sometimes I
still feel our conversations groping my bones. Your coldness is outside of me,








We take our trash and recyclables to Bloom City town hall on Saturday mornings.
It’s just a corsage of five blue dumpsters but we still call it “the dump” since the

act of dumping stuff you don’t want remains the same. It costs $1.50 for each
bag of garbage and co-mingled recyclables are free. A panglossian woman runs

it and hangs out in a shed with a space heater between dumpings and doesn’t
check to see if your sacs of sullen recyclables are actually garbage-in-waiting.







Every week driving into town I see at least one bald eagle, usually alone. They
are birds without a gender who defy all useless definitions humans impose on


The last one I saw grinning in a ditch looked especially pleased with themselves
just to be themselves. America is an idea that belongs only to people. I’m glad.







There’s a house, recently built. I loathe it, I detest this kind of modern shack. It is
an ideology of loveless elbows, shin-splints windows; you can tell deadpans of

of money were hoarded. Their neighbors, temperamental farmhouses teasing
the land with their slow-motion extinction, laugh at them.They were built to last.

Nothing suggests that real people live there. On my route driving home after
sunset the lights are always on. Their lives are filthy clean. Desire is a faux pas.







My sisters have a sense of humor. My sisters have crow’s feet from pleasure. I
wore black to the meeting. I am tired from working. I wear black to enrapture the

sun. I rarely wear white. Only newborns and demons wear white everyday. Crows
are always on my road. Men are afraid of us. We know how to get what we want.







On the drive to Hillsboro it’s Amish country. Farms are comely and centered
due to women working hard every day. Houses and barns are constructed

from wood they cut and processed with the support of their community. The
clotheslines are magnificent inventions — on metal pulleys reaching up to the

second floor of the house. In summers, vegetable gardens are heady and
professional. Women glide from row to row, grooming the feathered onions.







Down the road a ways. Past Morningstar Bakery. Over the top of the next hill.
Across from an old Czech church. You’ll see a sign that says “Valley.” Get thee

way to Owl Lake, you can bypass Lament proper. She’s back there, you’ll feel it.
Just a hop kiss and a jump over to the edge of nothing. Nine knots singin west

be on the lookout for a roundabout they just put in. Don’t get stuck like I did. You
can’t miss it — just keep going until you hit Serenity. Clearest eyes you’ll ever see.
No ghosts for miles.







Image: photo by Esther Tuttle on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Nikki Wallschlaeger
Latest posts by Nikki Wallschlaeger (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.