by Jenna Jaco
I see you, night-gowned, emerging from the house
through the fog of the Hill Country—all in grayscale,
as was life before lightbulbs and photographs. I see you
fiddling with the latch on the shed by the barn
and thanking the moon as the door gives in.
Granny says you could have been saved by a flashlight,
saved by reading a label correctly, that you reached
for what you thought was cough medicine
but was really “BLACK LEAF 40,” some kind of leather stain.
(Upon Googling: actually parasiticide.)
The story goes you don’t notice, take three solid gulps,
shuffle through the grass back into the bed
next to your husband’s and never wake up
because maybe you want more than the precision of the quilt you quilt,
the patriotic one now draped in posterity over the recliner in Kerrville.
Maybe the hills press the air so close that all you ever hear
is your own pulse in your brain, mocking your footsteps.
Maybe your husband is a real asshat. Maybe not.
What’s your first name, even?
(More Googling: an Etsy listing: “Black Leaf 40 poison miniature glass.”
Sorry, this item has been sold.)
Is that you?