by T.L. Sherwood

Longing for a rainbow, we gushed out the door, pinged by drips from the leaking metal eaves. The storm was swift and harsh like our stepfather’s midnight visits to our bedroom. We ignored the rain-licked grass toweling off on our pant legs as we ran as fast as we could to the barn. There were cows to milk, chickens to rob, horses to brush. In the garden, we marveled how single beans replicated thousands of genetic cousins, how tiny seeds produced such plump tomatoes. I contemplated how it could be right that we were taking so much, giving so little. In church, we heard it was the way of the world. The magnificent bounty was our birthright and it was, wasn’t it? The week before she fled, there was another torrent. My sister confided she would have given anything to never have been born.

***

We buried her ashes as an afterthought before packing up and moving north. In the snow-speckled region, there were customs and dictates my comprehension decried as ludicrous. I wondered aloud more than once if I needed to be born there to understand how they wanted me to undress like a Sultan’s bride and start reciting stories of intrigue for them to accept my presence. The same tenets I’d heard all my life took on shimmers of threat. How I needed to forgive trespasses, turn my stung cheek—or else. A stoned neighbor boy asked why I couldn’t relax into a pleasurable existence like the simple ape of earth formed by ocher colored space dust that I was. I shook my head until it broke free from grief. For one brave second I glared at him and all future lovers. I begged answer to one single question. ‘What do you know of monsoons?’

Among other places, T.L. Sherwood’s work has appeared in New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, Elm Leaves Journal, Page & Spine, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She lives in Springville, New York near Eighteen Mile Creek and is currently working on a novel.  https://tlsherwood.com