She needs to get rid of the revolver
wrapped in the blood-splattered dress
tucked underneath her driver’s seat.
She parks the Chevy on the shoulder
of a gravel road, the engine ticks
in the morning blaze while cicadas
drone their prayers. Jeremiah sings
along with the radio. She steps out
of the car with the swaddled gun
and a wrench snug against her chest,
hops a drainage ditch, and climbs
a barbed wire fence, careful not to snag
her skirt. There’re horses further in the field.
A stallion raises his head, twitches
an ear, and then lowers his breath
back into the dew-drenched grass.
She hollers back to her brother: Jeremiah,
you stay. I won’t be long. He waves her off
with a fat hand through the rolled-down
window, annoyed that she’s interrupting
his song. There’s a rhythmic swish
as she clumps deeper into the pasture.
Grass blades stick to her wet shoes, burs
cling to her cotton hem. She kneels down
behind a bosk, and thinks about the man
alone in the church pew, the way doom
stretched across his face like a prairie fire
leaving a landscape of despair as she raised
the revolver a ruler-length from his forehead.
She yanks tufts of tall fescue out of the ground,
and claws at the black earth with the wrench.
She wedges the bundle into the narrow hole
and bulldozes the dirt over the shallow grave.
She brushes off her knees, and wades back
to the car glinting in the sun. Jeremiah glares
as she plops herself behind the wheel,
and clunks the heavy door closed.
Sorry Jeremiah, she says, nature, you know.
She cranks the engine. The Chevy backfires.
Gunshots crack against the walls of her memory
just as they did among cathedral arches.
As they pull onto the road, Jeremiah cranes
his neck to watch trees, clouds and horses
fall into the abyss of the side view mirror.
Joshua Michael Stewart has had poems published in Massachusetts Review, Euphony, Rattle, Cold Mountain Review, William and Mary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Evansville Review and Blueline. Pudding House Publications published his Chapbook Vintage Gray in 2007. Finishing Line Press published his chapbook Sink Your Teeth into the Light in 2012 He lives in Ware, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.joshuamichaelstewart.yolasite.com