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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 1, March 2018

Marilyn Fleming
Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Chasing Shadows

a red rooster
on the farmyard gate
milk cans clang
screen doors slam

Forty years later I return to the farmland where my sister and I grew up. I walk back and forth, searching for the old orchard path, the blackberry patch. It is spring and and yet no hickory grove, no apple blossoms, no violets, no buttercups delighting my senses. But instead, in the dried-up creek bed, I find the rocks we had used to build a dam. And the wobbly bridge Dad had cobbled, now a heap of broken boards.

Diesel fumes and the raw structure of a building conceal the mouth of the cave. Constant hammer blows subdue killdeer and cricket chirps. The land looks scalded from the bulldozer's push and chuff. I bend my knees and drop to the ground. The way a fox with merciless bright eyes scrapes up earth, I scrape the sacred lichen-covered rock, scrape and scrape. My fingertips trace the letters of her name over and over.

I bury
my face in my hands—
that same
loud sucking sound
as the casket lid latches



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