Folk of the Side
There are things I need to do, I say. You find it, link it, share. We cross three states to find the proof we found online—a school on a hill’s crest in the shape of a circle, classrooms I swear were mine, an intercom box to call, sending a girl-child, red-faced, wood-fearing, to the office. We find my aunt, my grandparents’ stone home in which they no longer live. We search apartment complexes, each sloped hill similar to each concrete slab. I could’ve lived in any of these, I say, thinking, every unit, every occupant the same. We didn’t collect buckeyes. We didn’t order garlic bread. We didn’t find the hedge apples or the hole in the chain link fence, the place where snails left glittery trails. The military stopped us, lost as we followed the map that was wrong. We hike the park to meet a hoary man with pointy ears in a brimless cap. Fairies, folk, places I didn’t remember, charms I could possess—we’re driving, navigating the path, stories changing into cup, goblet, bow.
You are in the shower and I’m left to two beds, a window, a walkway outside our door where men in dark hoodies and sun worn faces pass, bored by labor, by trees torn down, concrete forms arranged, the songs of blackbirds in the brush. I pray to the internet forces, my hands at keys counting each letter of messages I hope to send. Thirteen sleeps the sleep of the elderly. I’m post-shower, hair slicked back, in bedclothes. The men pass twice more, staring. I draw the curtain shut by its plastic rod, bolt the door, turn the fan on constant to blot their boots as they pass all night, fingers tracing knob, pane, cardkey lock. I don’t know what story they tell themselves about female desire, about me, if I count as a person, worthy—women plus money, fists, alcohol—first him and then him and then him, all these men, misdirected fury.
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press). Her recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard), and the collaborative book The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters (Les Femmes Folles) with artist Lauren Rinaldi. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, Ploughshares, and Calyx.