This is the House That
Beyond the trees you can see the house, it stands there still, soft wood and trickle trees drop pointy leaves that stick to the soles of bathed bare feet, wicked leaves, a soft house, a rat scampering with malted mouth, a cat almost yowling at summer sky, cat yowls, dog barks, rumble belly tumbles toward the door, wide open, cat run, dog run, rat run, malt showered over a woozy kitchen floor, fuzzed moo-moo-moonbeams clearing forest path, cow scuddlewudding home, chew, chew, moo, crumpled horn like sadness, like forlorn, so sad, such a moo, and the man, tattered and torn, waits, whistles, hands malted and muddled, hands at his brow, at his bearded cheek, he sings a drunken tune, something like this and then this and then this, he stares toward open window, toward moo-moo-moonbeam, hears the sound of neighbor priest, whistling too, whistle, kick and skittle pebble across the path, good eve, good eve, a voice in evening, the neighbor farmer, the priest, a handshake, a head nod, a hoohaha, and then such silence, golden, growing, tattered man with his eyes closed, almost asleep, kiss on the back of his head, soft hand at his shoulder, malt and rat and cat and dog and all forgotten, maiden all forlorn, she cries, he sighs, cock crows at midnight, and then she smiles, maiden in her rumpled frock, all a-fuck she smiles and then she goes, silent across grain gravel floor, she skirts the cat, the dog, oh where is the rat, and then back on the moo-moo-moonlit path, she turns, a wave, a farewell to Jack and the house he built.
Shellie Zacharia teaches in Florida. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Opium, Keyhole, Canteen, The Pinch, Washington Square, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her story collection, Now Playing, is forthcoming from Keyhole Press.