Issue 1 Cover Poecology

Issue 1

 

Ann Fisher-Wirth

 
 

In Summer

 

 

You lay on the bed’s sweaty sheets while your mother pulled your nightie up to your shoulders, baring your back, and tipped the rubbing alcohol into her hand, smoothed it on your hot skin, as through the open window the leaves were stirring. There now, she said, go to sleep, don’t move, lie still, you will not be so hot if you lie still. You and your little sister sang to each other, Old Black Joe, Sleep Baby Sleep, Sweet and Low, Shepherd Show Me How to Go, taking turns spinning the songs out in your matching beds with the strawberry chintz until finally blot bingo blip you must have been asleep, conked out in the sweat and heat and cicadas. Suddenly it was morning. You stripped, climbed into your seersucker playsuit without putting on underpants, ran downstairs and ate your breakfast, went outside. Your father brought you Summer Specials, this is what you called caramels, and in a white paper bag he brought you molasses cookies with crinkle sugar, shaped like oval outdoor faucets—you took a bite and sucked it till the cold juicy sugar filled your mouth, then swallowed, took another bite. Next year your father was in Korea. Your mother packed up you and your sister, her best friend took her own three kids, you all rented houses at Stone Harbor. You watched your sister get knocked over by a riptide, and your mother run in to help her and likewise get knocked over by a riptide, the two of them struggling up, falling sideways down, your mother struggling again, yanking your sister by the arm, trying to lift her clear. Your father was in Korea so did anyone come to help them, or did your mother find her feet again and make it to shore? You watched them, not quite knowing if you should be terrified. In the summer the leaves grew big as hands on the maple tree, and you swung in your swing set so high that your feet bumped the leaves, thinking about hell: your friend said it was real, your mother said it was not. Thinking about God. And your favorite crayon word, the color of those leaves: Viridian.