the moon rises like carp from between the trees, slow-shining. eight paces away, in the clearing, the abandoned water reservoir juts up through the treetops, already sodden with moonlight. vines crawl across its cracked gray face, bathing in the pale glow. icicles of rust drip from the barbed wire gate that rings its entrance.
there are grooves there, in the oak-panelled stairs that spiral up to the reservoir’s gated roof; as i climb it now i can hear the thundering of our converse, our loafers, the slick-soled boots Leana wore on the first night we hoisted each other up over the gate and onto the expanse of broken Corona bottles and lovestruck graffiti and abandoned pizza boxes ashen from rain. years of our laughter bubble up from the concrete like the froth of faraway rivers: the hushed murmurs of our first perseid shower, the whisperings of our tea lights, the tiny clicks of our polaroid cameras—all blending into the same sustained note, plateauing, until my flashlight slices white through the darkness and illuminates nothing.
I think we ought
to get away from here.
There are only so many summers we can spend
drinking love with our hands,
watching it trickle between our fingers
until our lips touch
The Hedge Witch
Beneath my skirt,
my skin blooms nightshade;
reeds break through my bikini line
like ingrown hairs.
I prick holes in my cheeks
with sewing needles,
Along my jaw,
I’ve broken out
Mother always says,
witchcraft is supposed to be soft
and a bit selfish,
but get real:
It’s the 21st century.
When Marissa says
she wants out of the coven,
I replace her words
with morning glories,
coax them out
from between her teeth
until she coughs petals.
I had another lucid dream last night, and in it
I’m telling myself that I’m sliding the bullet
back into the mouth of the gun like a tongue
retracting. like lips moving
in reverse. like a kiss rewinding,
I’m telling myself this is an ending of sorts; maybe the best kind
of ending I could have asked for, really,
what with the sun slipping through the oak leaves
like something forgotten. what with his feet bare in the dirt, spraying soil.
what with the slow turn of his head, the fringe of his bangs falling into his eyes,
and the way he’s smiling like people only smile in dreams
before turning sour,
before they rot and fall to the ground.
I’m telling myself this is a reel of film
on the cutting room floor, that this is the scene of him saying tag, you’re it
and darting through the shrubbery with the light and the wind cascading
through his blue polo shirt. that this is me counting to ten,
the gun’s smoke curling back
into its own mouth. that it’s the director’s cut, that it’s his blood unstaining the cotton
of his shirt, that it’s his laughter ringing through the pines
like none of this means anything.
Emma Sloan is a published poet, journalist, and flash fiction writer. With an educational background in Writing and Publishing from the University of Victoria, Emma now runs her own copywriting and editing service, The Wee Writer. Her works have been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Sonder Midwest, and The Good Men Project. Follow her on Instagram at @emmacsloan for updates and news.