CW: abuse if you’re waiting for love to answer, wait a little longer. your boyfriend will show up late again, drunk, spit in your face. if you want the past to mean anything you have no choice. go— back into that woods of rotting pianos where your tracks lead you, where you shot your doe. you are called to that wreckage by the wind stroking the piano keys for ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ come home. the night you pulled the trigger you thought horse because you thought you saw a racehorse with a broken leg eat your rifle fire— shocked by pentobarbital, thrashing through this swamp of blood. and still you don’t believe in fate— yes. you do— you believe there is a reason your father passed you his knife the night you stood over the horse changed back to doe. you believe there is no after Kentucky. this far north you have no way to pull a bullet back. no matter what you do with your hands they will always smell of blood and sky and the woods where headless ghosts; deer poached for their racks of bone, echo time’s promise of no reply. the empty answers your beg: “dear God, I am actually speaking to you.” here, the crows sing somebody’s gonna die as your boyfriend drags you by the hair to the darkening waterline. you think of the first horse you ever owned and the doe brainstarred—struggling water to a red foam. you have held that animal as it dies. mostly it takes— like your boyfriend breaks a mirror with his fist, like how while you sleep— believing time will repair you— he wipes his bleeding hand across your face.
Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbook “Airs Above Ground” (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press). She is a co-founder and editor of Madhouse Press. She is also a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work has appeared in journals such as Muzzle, Vinyl, Prairie Schooner, Fugue and other notable publications.