I’m thrilled to be posting works by two sisters this time. Enjoy their beautiful prose and poetry!
I keep seeing you,
walking on the shore,
so soaked in boyhood innocence and grief.
Where did you think of the idea to
grab the strings
and the rocks
and tie them to your
young, trandscending legs
and to wade out into the water until it
I wanted to save you.
Why couldn’t I just stop you for a moment longer…
cradle you in the warmth of my chest tighter,
and pull you in a little closer.
Instead I let you walk out into that lake,
heavy with the weight of rocks that you
had been carrying with you your whole life… you took
all that you could carry and
you left me alone with some pebbles on the shore.
and maybe you found God at the bottom,
and maybe it’s better this way,
maybe you’re smiling in Heaven right now looking at me and saying, “come on over, it isn’t so bad,” and I just can’t hear you laugh because the sound of mourning is still suffocating my ears,
Maybe you are happier now without rocks weighing you down,
but everyone here is still crawling around with the pieces you left behind draped over them like mismatched clothes and if they leave them on too long you will become a part of their skin like you have become a part of mine.
because no matter how many times I have thrown those pebbles after you, they just keep getting washed up next to me on this desolate shore.
So maybe I will find some string
and tie them to my legs
and swim out to heaven after you.
– Megan Kidder
The tower didn’t appear overnight, though those who first noticed it would disagree. To them, one winter morning dawned where the white sun was caged by a complicated lattice of iron and steel. In fact, the tower had been under construction for many days, weeks even. But in a town where little happened, people didn’t always recognize something different, at first.
The tower was being constructed on the land of Jon Sanders, a local factory worker. The metal came from the scrap yard of the factory where he worked, and his job had given him enough experience in welding and construction, so little time was spent on how. The whispered question on everyone’s lips was why, why was Jon building the tower?
There was no mystery to him, not even the predictable mystery of town loners, old men in older houses who may or may not be dead. He had lived in this town all his life, like his father and mother before him. He’d gone to the local high school, graduated and went to work at the factory. After a number of years working to establish financial stability, and having reached a respectable level of maturity, he became engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Abigail Watson. Nothing about him suggested any tendencies toward eccentricity or tower building.
Because there was no question that it was anything but a tower. It couldn’t be mistaken for the frame of a grain silo, or a windmill. It looked like it would shake in a light breeze, yet it was undoubtedly well constructed, because didn’t they sometimes see Jon climbing and scaling the structure like it was nothing more than a playground jungle gym?
The town encased in winter offered little other diversion, and it became common to see a group of people huddled by the fence surrounding Jon’s property at noon, sipping hot drinks out of plastic thermoses, watching the construction. Occasionally they’d shout out to Jon as he dragged metal to the base of the tower, or hoisted it high, but he never shouted back. This didn’t discourage his viewers though. It gave his endeavor a sense of greater purpose, and a hush would settle on those gathered whenever he ascended the tower, for fear of distracting him.
Whenever Jon came into town, on lunch break from the factory, or on errands to the general store, he’d talk to others as though nothing had changed, but he spoke not one word about the tower, nor would he answer questions about it. He worked at the factory as usual, yet those around him would sometimes see him grasp a piece of worked metal more tightly, hold it longer, and his eyes would stare a thousand miles away. At the end of the day when he loaded up his pickup, it was no surprise to see that piece of metal in the truck bed with the other scraps.
One day Abigail came, and stood at the foot of the tower and called Jon’s name, once, softly. He heard, and descended, hands sure of their placement on the metal rungs. Then he stood before her, and she said nothing, but gestured to his house, and they both went inside. When she emerged from the house an hour later, not quite half the town was gathered outside the gate. When she reached them, the winter air was warm with repressed questions. She said simply, “He plans to have it finished by spring,” and went back home.
As the weather warmed, and the tower grew, word spread to surrounding towns, even reaching the city. Every so often a suited, bespectacled man would knock on Jon’s door, interested in the tower. Was it a statement? Was it art? What was he trying to prove? Jon would be hospitable, politely thanking the men for their travels, but still would answer no questions about the tower. It became common for the children, on their way home from school, to hop Jon’s fence to get closer to the tower, much to the disapproval of their mothers. But Jon did not send them away, and soon the bravest were walking around the base, even running their hands on the chilly metal. And all the while the tower grew, and everyone waited for spring.
The last night of winter, when the town was asleep, Abigail made her way to Jon’s. She found him standing in the center of his tower, and she easily navigated her way through the maze of metal to join him. They made love, quietly. Before she left, he gave her something, a wooden cigar box. His hands lingered on her face, on the strips of shadow cast by the tower. And then she left, clutching the box to her abdomen.
The first morning of spring dawned clear. The sun struck the tower and set it to a fiery brilliance that could be seen for miles. The whole town was gathered at the fence, the young sitting on the slats, the old leaning against the posts. They shielded their eyes from the tower like they would from a solar eclipse, where the fear of damaging your eyes is overridden by the unwillingness to miss a single moment.
The sun was halfway up the tower when Jon emerged from the house. A few overexcited people clapped at his arrival, but they quickly fell into silence, expectant. Then he began to climb. He did not pause to look out at the view, or at the tower to decide where to put his hand next. It was a tall tower though, so it still took him quite some time to climb it. As the sun sat inside the very last rungs of the tower, Jon reached the top. In the silent morning, those gathered heard him shout something, saw him slowly lift both arms and reach forward, hands open to receive something. No one could see his face, but all felt the fervor of his gaze, and they turned to see what had consumed him.
With their backs towards the tower, no one could ever say for sure what happened next. All anyone knew for sure was that a loud shriek, like a bird dying, split the sky, and as one the crowd turned back to see metal bending and tearing and rivets popping like gun shots, and a dying shudder that ran through the tower as it collapsed.
Of course everybody came running as the last girder settled in the heap of scrap metal, but they all knew it was too late, and they never found Jon’s body. When someone was sent to Abigail’s house to tell her the news, she was not there. She had left last night, boarded a train heading east with only a suitcase and a wooden cigar box.
Having conclusively proved unstable, the teetering pile of metal was roped off, and mothers forbade their children to play near it, for fear a piece of steel would twist aside and strike them. Jon and his tower became another mysterious legend, and nothing in Jon’s house or effects explained his motives.
Many years later, Abigail would show her son the contents of the cigar box – a fragile clump of flowers that had once been the boutonnière and corsage from his parents’ senior prom, the money saved from years of factory labor, in several faded white envelopes neatly wound with twine, and the drawings, all the drawings of a tower of iron and steel that turned to silver fire when it caged the sun.
– Elizabeth Kidder
The Doe Leaves No Mark
At the edge of trees,
a doe steps into the field,
once tilled. There, a grove
of fallen apples
and a leaning broken barn.
Even the doe knows
the smell of domesticity.
Her hooves don’t disturb the shadows
When she noses a sun-softened apple.
There were horses here once,
coils of rope looped through the posts,
woven by hair and wind;
even now, the deep prints
in the grass where a hoof
kept the blades from growing back straight.
She knows she is deer, dappled and wet-nosed,
invisible among the trees and near flight.
Her hooves leave nothing behind.
But she straightens her neck, legs braced, and what if
long hairs, tough and glinting, sprang
from her spine and covered her tail. What if,
when she ran, she didn’t leave the earth,
in a chorus of beats, dirt
flying around hooves that left
a trail, left
– Elizabeth Kidder