Sarah Jane Barnett

Dennis Dowthitt

The girls are young buttonwoods, he decides.
Their mottled trunks will shed their camouflage:
a tan and silvery fuzz of bark
that peels back to expose the skin.

While dragging
her to the rear of his truck he thinks, I’m fucking sick
of selling cars in Humble.

He’d walked this pipeline for hours as a kid,
see-sawing from foot to foot. Humming.

He knew all the best places
where the trees grew together tightly,
arthritic against the scud. The rottenest of trees
would hollow out, overnight it seemed.

In a woody crevice he’d hidden a tin race car
and a cheap bottle of beer, tied in a bundle with rope.

(At the bowling alley she'd glanced at him
and his son. He’d felt young, like a buck.)

I am so
sorry for what y'all had
to go through. I am so
sorry for what all of
you had to go
through. I can't imagine
losing two children.
If I was
y'all, I would have
killed me. You
know? I am really
so sorry about it
I really am. I got to go
sister, I love
you. Y'all take care
and God bless you.
Gracie was beautiful
Tiffany was beautiful.
You had some lovely
girls and I am
sorry. I don't
know what to
say. All right, Warden,
let's do it.

The bundle’s still there in the damp mulch 
and rodent shit. The race car’s wheels are frozen up, 
the paintwork chipped. Fucking ruined, he thinks and throws 
her against the pipe where a small crack 
pisses water. 

Nothing is working right today.

His son’s trousers are saturated around the zipper
and the wind is raining seeds in spiralling parachutes, 
their pubescent shed irritating 
his eyes until they swell, weepy and red.

Author’s Note


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