Liminal Pastoral

by Marvin Shackelford

Along the tar-chipped road ponds dry at their edges, banks spreading, the streams and springs that feed them narrowing through their stones and winds, disappearing. The sun works at the earth unimpeded for weeks, sets each evening far behind the parched trees bunched across the horizon. Down in the dive of the creek an owl rises, unexpectedly and wide-winged, from the weeds beside the pavement. The cross of its body carries it clear of sight, and something shrieks. Through the woods bats begin to chirp of home. The deer and groundhogs shiver ahead of the stars, and snakes remember their legs. Cattle low in the pastures and kick up dust. Cicadas sing their generation of death. The air throbs. In that first moment of night my body is a farmhouse cracked and leaning against the black, windows flung open and lit bright. The roar of the earth gives to the thin radio tucked beneath a kitchen cabinet. Some monster built of granite and excess flesh warbles along with the only human voice to break its way inside. No more parting over there, we wail and twang. I walk through my door and close it behind me.

Marvin Shackelford

Marvin Shackelford is author of a poetry collection, Endless Building, and a couple volumes of stories and flash forthcoming from Alternating Current and Red Bird Chapbooks. He resides in Southern Middle Tennessee, earning a living in agriculture.