Excerpt from “In the Poppy Field My Mother Waits”

In the spring of that year the poppies in the field behind our house blushed and unfurled like girls in the wake of their ripening.

My mother said she was too tired to go outside. I lay alone in the tall grass and watched ants swarm and carry away the body of a honeybee to their monarch, bulging and recumbent in her hollowed chamber.

She would cough often at dinner. Dotting the bare white china, the red of the poppies.

I call for her in the field but there is no answer.

I tell her don’t leave. I tell her that I will be good.

The poppies, basking their rosy faces in the sun, are indifferent. They pretend they do not hear me. I imagine my mother among them, concealed in the throng of their slender, boyish figures.

Had her fingers and toes sprouted roots which burrowed into the black earth like worms? Did the butterflies lick her lips, glistening with nectar?

When my father and I go to the grocery store the cash registers roll their musical tongues coated in silver the women with their children look up from their canned peas and Wonder bread the butcher with his starched apron blotted, sullied like the napkin of a beast who gorging itself on the supine carcass of a bovine straightens in its chair, wipes its snout politely and says pass the ketchup please.

The bovine pulls a long face. Its pink tongue hangs from its mouth. The black bowls of its eyes like lead bullets in sockets of flesh.

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