All day the sky is a closed fist. All day the maple leaves
upraise their silver palms. All day the pregnant air. The dust
and heat. Meet me out behind my mom’s school bus says one
seventeen-year-old to another, and I need a cigarette. And
I hate this place I can’t wait to get out of here. And she kicks
at the gravel, at a pacifier half-buried in the gravel. It’s
the kind of day. Meet me out behind the smoke shack says
one eighteen-year-old to another. As soon as we punch out
for break. I hate this place I can’t wait to get out of here.
It’s the kind of day that hangs. Women move like figureheads,
leaning always into the next thing, gentling through the silence
like low boats. Just whatta ya think yer laughin’ at is the
most desperate thing ever said by a woman whose belly
hangs from under her shirt. Whose children have never
ceased touching her. Men slouch along slow like a garbage
barge. All day the water main waits beneath the house.
There is one church for the people who admit they are good
and one church for the people who don’t. Their crosses
like identical sinking prows. All day the sky draws back
like a punch is coming and the machines pound
between cigarettes. Meet me outside says one preacher to
the other preacher. I hate this place I can’t wait to get out of here.
RACHEL CUSTER lives with her partner and their daughter in Northern Indiana. Her work has previously appeared in Rattle, [PANK], BlazeVOX, Literary Orphans, and Burnt District, among other places.