she knows his engine’s sound
—— & the car door closing
waits at the window
———-scissors blinds open & shut
perfects her blouse’s neckline
—————-through her hair
tosses a soft cloud of scent
——puts away dry dishes
—–sorts ATM slips out of her wallet
she knows his tread in the hallway
——his key in the lock
makes herself not-quite-ready
———–when he arrives
In the beginning
my dog’s eyes clicked open with a flash of epiphany,
brown-curled ear cocked at some subsonic voice:
a motorbike, a firework, or the distant gospel of thunder.
For the next hour she is a zealous pilgrim,
pacing the fenceline. Clouds gather,
lightning sends her to shelter under the bed
lost in loll-tongued prayer.
Later she will guide me across the paddocks,
slicking down a dark path,
grass bowing flat and humble to the barking prophet
at the edge between the sleek earth and grey-blue sky.
The one who first heard the storm.
The Dirt Baby
A woman has nothing in her hands and she is lonely. She goes outside and the sky is
black without stars or planets. In the middle of the yard she kneels and spits on the
ground beside her legs. Her saliva mixes with the dirt and her fingers knead the earth
until it is wet and claylike in her fists. She molds the mud into the shape of a child. In
the dark, she discovers that she and the child look exactly alike. The mud baby sits in
the woman’s palms and she is content. Ah, mine. The woman presses the child to her
breast and the dirt falls away in clumps. First the child’s hands fall to the ground, and
then both of its arms, and soon its legs. The woman cries out and brings its head to
her lips but it rolls off before she can kiss it. A torso of dirt is left in her hands; an
earthworm wriggles out of its heart.
The Wicker Baby
A woman is told to collect rocks and wood for the hearth. She walks across a field
beside a cliff where she finds a pile of tiny stones. By and by, one begins to move.
She picks it up and it cracks open, dousing her hands in water. She tosses the slippery
halves into the grass and looks for something more suitable. By and by, she comes
across a larger rock under a tree. She heaves the heavy rock onto her shoulders. The
dead branches she plucks from the tree, then ties the bundle to her waist. On her way
back, she stumbles over a small basket in the middle of the field. Oh! A child is inside
the basket. It begins to cry. The basket is wicker and compatible. The woman places
them both in her pocket, carrying them to the hearth.
The Fish Baby
A young mother carries her drooling baby through the parking lot. Shiny cars pass on
either side of her as her heels click on the pavement. The baby begins to cry and its
face turns red and swollen. The mother hushes it by bouncing it gently with her
forearm and tenderly stroking its temples. Hush, hush, the mother says. The baby
grows louder and begins to spasm. The mother looks at the shiny cars, embarrassed.
She covers the baby with its burp cloth and it stops crying, but does not still. It
wriggles underneath the towel and grows thin and gray and slick with every
movement. Soon the mother is not holding a baby, but a fish. The fish moves its gills
wildly and flops in her arms. The mother throws it to the ground where it twirls on
its fins for some time until she stomps it with her dress shoe.
The Pool Baby
A woman swimming laps wants desperately to have a child. She dries off and asks the
man doing backstroke if he would like to a have a baby. He says no. She continues to
ask the other swimmers. No one wants children. They say: The world is
overpopulated. They say: Children are messy. They say: I want to be financially
secure. They say: I want to own a house. She finds no one, and her stomach is empty.
Feeling faint, she begins to eat. She eats and eats and eats. Hand to mouth, hand to
mouth, in steady movements. A year later, someone bumps into the woman outside
the swimming pool. They point at her bloated stomach: Is there a baby on the way?
The woman becomes delighted. Yes, she says. Oh, yes. It’s almost time. By and by her
skin begins to take on a rosy hue. She keeps eating. Her weight gathers around her
torso. She speaks to her stomach at night. She plays it classical music. She softly
presses her stomach and one day feels them kick. Them – twins! She’s delighted. She
imagines her belly button as a peep hole to another world. Her stomach is a mound.
She rubs and rubs it. Twins! She’s delighted – she rubs and rubs. She has such a
SALLY EVANS is a poet and PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong. Her poetry has previously been published in Islet, TIDE and One Horse Town.
She blogs at www.tallandignorantservants.tumblr.com
TARA GOEDJEN‘s fiction has appeared in North American journals such as AGNI, BOMB, Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West and New England Review, and most recently in Fairy Tale Review and Meanjin. She is a candidate in the Doctorate of Creative Arts program at the University of Wollongong, where she is at work on a novel about ghosts.
The Fish Baby first appeared in Denver Quarterly; The Dirt Baby first appeared in Sentence.