The tiny cottage in the woods is abandoned
until the woman whose husband drinks
takes refuge there
after a bender,
without regret.
The woman loves her husband,
and this is how she continues to love him.

When the gin comes out
she heads to the place with the skeletons of mice
swept into the corners.
The freshly dead smell of brassicas
before the molasses of rot sets in.

The woman will linger here for hours.
She may bring a blanket
or bread, a flashlight, a book.
She may stay the night.

She’ll watch as freight trains pass
beyond the tall pines.
Flashing boxcar painted jewels,
covered in cipher,
“Corn Products” bringing up the rear.

A boy died in this cottage
thirty years ago
after getting lost in freak snowstorm.
His mother, who remembers little else,
still curses the empty cupboards
of this place.

A gunman hid out
after killing a couple
for the forty dollars in their wallet.
Now he mops floors at Dixon
and once saw the Virgin Mary
in a watermelon,
which changed him.

The woman knows none of this.
If she did she might stay away,
but on this night she falls asleep
as bats stir in the eaves.

She’ll walk back gingerly in the morning
returning to the kind and clear-headed man
she believes herself to love,
who will be fixing a leaky faucet
he’s been meaning to get to for months.


Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash

Christy Prahl

Christy Prahl is a foraging enthusiast and occasional insomniac. Her poetry has appeared in the Blue Mountain Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Twyckenham Notes, and eMerge. She is the editor of the literary compendium 'A Construction of Cranes' (Plastic Flame Press, 2020) and splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan with her husband and plain brown dog.