By JC Reilly
Her sisters have spent the better part
of Saturday preparing
for the Sodality Spring Dance,
while Lulah, in overalls, hides in the hayloft
with her notebook and her pen,
trying out some new lines
that will never sound like those she’s read
in Michael Robartes and the Dancer.
What does she know of uprisings
At her feet, the latest batch of barncats—
more anarchy loosed upon the world—
bask in an old horse blanket
and some flannel bunting.
Proud papa Figgy, an arc of smoke,
stretches beside Rosmerta as she nurses
four torties and a nimbus-colored male
Lulah’s already nicknamed Chance—
short for Cloudy with a Chance.
Their small squeaks and purrs
distract a moment from words
that come sludge-dull and slow,
and from the sting of sister-sympathy.
Oh—but if he’d asked,
would some kind of magick be at hand?
Would Sibley magick be at hand?
Likely—and Lulah would have turned
any young man down,
just in case his will was coaxed.
She bends to tickle Chance’s belly,
the vapor-soft fur almost a revelation.
He looks at her, his topaz eyes
bright sunlight streaking through a thunderhead.
Another revelation—that his will
might be coaxed by her—
I am yours, written as if automatically,
on a fresh page in her book.
Tallulah hoists herself up the ladder
to the hayloft, a pouch of homespun
dangling from her teeth.
The weeding is done, and the pruning,
and no one will think to find her here,
though her sneezes might get
the better of her after a bit.
Figaro, more fleas than cat, sits
on the planks she poached from Dixon’s Dry
that form this desk across the bales.
He starts to groom the star
of his bottom just as she sets down the bag.
She tucks her skirt beneath her
on the seat, its horse-blanket cover
not quite keeping her from being stuck,
and prepares the scene,
mindful of Figgy: she brushes stray
flecks of hay to the floor, pulls out
a battered notebook, nearly empty,
an almost-new bottle of ink,
and the Colonel’s silver pen.
She dips the nib into the ink, black
sucking up in channels thin as eyelashes,
presses it to that first page—
where there are other such spots,
the ink veining spiders of hesitation.
What she could write: lists of notions,
quilt patterns, recipes copied from a card,
letters to the Times, accounts
of seeding or the honey harvest,
detailed blueprints for revenge—
or what sings, though it’s secret, secret:
that river through her thoughts
when common tasks should keep her care.
But today, she pushes beyond
those first falterings,
cuddles close the infant lines.
JC Reilly has feathers on her soul but so far no ability to fly. She writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work. She serves as the Managing Editor of the Atlanta Review and has pieces published or forthcoming in Imperfect Fiction, New Flash Fiction Review, the Arkansas Review, Riding Light, the Magnolia Review, and Rabbit: a Journal of Nonfiction Poetry (Australia). Read her (sometimes updated) blog at jcreilly.com or follow her @aishatonu.