Abigail Williams spends two minutes scratching out couplets to John Proctor

In this one, you’re no sweating stallion; we’re both rotting. Red and bloody and I hear the flies
buzz –we’re horse meat.
I picked you for your stone weight heart. You turned out pathetic, clay.
Please, unhinge my teeth from that stretch of skin above your shoulder. Use the crowbar if you
have to.
Twice now I’ve written to your wife and – don’t worry – torn each letter up. I still feel her needle
– and yours – sticking into me.
Clear my guts from the back of your throat. Having no other point of reference I can only believe
you, that this is love grown up.

My first love in the driver’s seat, meeting the crunch of the wall

His car, driven – unswerving – toward the concrete.
Humiliating betrayal: the helicopter news clip devastatingly public sight of the straight unhesitant lines of his tire treads. Me, expendable, not even jettisoned, crawling pathetic from the
passenger side.
Lately, God has been bursting from me like the thick, heavy blackness of space
smells like burnt metal and blood and sounds like a horn blare
and comes seeping out from under my fingernails and comes pouring out of my mouth
and blowing out of my ears and sliding off of my hair and slipping out from under my feet and
when I was floored by the glass-bottomed ceiling I wiped the gravel and glass from my face and
saw the sky push her windy fingers through fields and our upturned vehicle
and guessed he’d finally made it home, after a decades-long absence, after a car driven
unswerving toward concrete, and despite my best efforts
to keep him here.

The boy who caught me on my knees in the woods

smiled and said he knew what I was doing.

“You must have some plants at home, huh? You stealing dirt?”

Sheepish, I laughed. He’d already seen me with the oversized dessert fork, stabbing the ground
one-handed, poking around pill bugs and worms. My vase was only half-full and I’d been
sweating and slapping mosquitoes away for minutes. [Cherry tomatoes, I said. Seedlings in an
egg carton. Soon they’d need more space.]

“It goes faster,” he said, kneeling next to me, “if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty.” A
pink palm, then two, thumbed through soil, delivering a scoopful to the blue glass of the vase.


“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” he winked. My kneecaps blushed in the wet dirt. “You take
care of those tomatoes. Have a good one.”

[You too.]

Photo by Luke van Zyl

J. G. Russell

J. G. Russell is a queer poet who teaches English literature at a high school in southeastern Michigan. You can find her other poems in Pine Hills Review, GASHER Journal, Coffin Bell Journal, Belletrist Magazine, and Swallow the Moon.

Twitter: @scroogesnephew
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