Neighborly Conduct This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 29, 2013
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
The house sits on the corner:
Squat and black as a witch’s cauldron,
it casts long shadows over the road.
There is a tree in the yard,
a twisted thing –
bare even in the springtime,
when its branches thrust through sparse leaves,
sending them fluttering like tiny birds spiraling through the twilight.
Against the glow of the streetlamp,
We crouch on the damp grass,
watching darkness creep forward over the road
twigs reaching to tangle in our hair,
fleeing when the game becomes too real,
we run home,
cement – bitten legs scratched and bloody.
Our parents told us not to go there again,
But I sneak out after dark,
Stomach dropping in excitement when I see her hunched figure,
Set in blackness against the backdrop of the sky.
She crouches,
chanting to her plants,
Knobbled knees dull with dirt,
Crooked teeth catching in a face round and soft as a shriveled apple.
She caught us in her garden once,
Hiding among the bushes in a long – ago game of hide – and – go – seek.
She saw our eyes shining like strange berries through the leaves.
Running to snatch us –
We darted away, giggling,
Watching as long wisps of white hair vanished with the breeze.
She panted like a dog, cane pushed against her hip,
Heavy mouthfuls of air heaving from her lungs,
Her hands sinking into the garden hedge with her gasping.
We waited breathless,
With children’s cruel curiosity,
And when she opened her mouth,
We scattered in terror,
Afraid that black crows would fly from her throat –
After all,
Their feet left prints at the corners of her eyes.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

Bookish said...
Feb. 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Fantastic. It reads very much like a story and immerses me in the scene. I am generally not a fan of prose-y poetry (too often writers take prose, chop it up and call it a poem) but your poem uses prose-like elements very well. I particularly loved how you took common descriptions of objects and twisted them...  like the "branches thrust through sparse leaves" and "long wisps of white hair vanished with the breeze." Keep up the good work and I hope to read more of yo... (more »)
Site Feedback