Apples lie rotting in their cottage garden as she falls asleep upstairs. Sweet
babes torn prematurely from the arms of their mother, now battle
corpses buried in shallow graves. Their
dead flesh and yellow leaves are
eaten by maggots, railroad flies who pass out drunk,
fat with honey fungus and cider. Her husband lights a bonfire,
grabs the wheelbarrow, filling it with the maggoty bodies once ripe like
hers. Meanwhile upstairs she sleeps and dreams of
ichor draining from her veins and pooling into
jugs of wine as if she were at the Last Supper. When she wakes, a
knowing looms inside her, gnarly and thick
like the magnolia that grew black and tall last summer.
Moving in a trance, she creeps downstairs to cull it. Her fingers are
numb and the blade jerks quickly silver and the cut
opens its mouth to a fast river and her husband kneels, dropping the
peonies he has just picked for her, gentle crimson blossoming at her feet.
Quiet now, they climb the stairs at the back of the house together. She
rests her head against his leonine chest, inhaling his
smoky skin and lets him put her back to bed.
The blinds are drawn and she doesn’t see or smell the bonfire
under the grieving tree, her husband burning its sour vessels of
velvet fruits, his head hung low, wiping his brow, missing the
woman he married, wishing he had noticed sooner, hoping the
X-ray wasn’t right. He prays nightly to God, to Christ, to
Yahweh to return his wife to him. Clouds gather above.
Zeus prepares for a storm.
This post is brought to you by
The Odds Against a Starry Cosmos
by Abby Bland
The Odds Against a Starry Cosmos explores the intimacy of human relationship and growth against the backdrop of the natural world, moving through moments of grace, brokenness, and wonder.
About The Author
Claire T. Jennings is originally from the UK but has been living in Los Angeles for over eight years. She has performed in the Los Angeles storytelling festival and has been a guest speaker at the University of Santa Barbara Literary Symposium. Claire has been published in the Eastern Iowa Review and was included in their Best Lyric Prose Anthology, as well as Dreamers Creative Writing and Cathexis North West Press. Her lyric essay “In the Hollow of a Mother” was nominated for The Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net and Best American Essay in 2018.
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