|M Wears a Dress
M wears a dress made of M. It extends beyond her knees. Where it touches the ground, daisies press out their flowers. Passersby notice the scent. The ground is yellow where M has been. It is springtime in Donald. The butcher is sharpening knives brought to him by the weary. Knives go dull during the winter months, it is fact. Clouds and despondencies act drastically on the metallic, decreasing its momentum, so that by February it barely cuts through a piece of lean dry meat. The butcher tests each blade by slicing a pink curtain of lamb off a shank he keeps in his front window for display. The sheer pink curtains he also hangs in the window, from rods. Blood drips finely from them, collecting in small neat pools that look like coins. M stops to collect them. When she bends the butcher sees her knees. They are very fine knees and very large. He wonders how she grows them. Once as a child he felt exceptionally free. He had been lying on his back beneath a tree. The tree had been a birch tree. All of the birch tree’s leaves had lifted in a breeze that only tickled the hairs on his arms a little. He had lifted his arms. The leaves had all turned their white bellies to him. He had ascended. Maybe only a few feet, but the feeling had been remarkable. Nothing else has happened in his life since then. Marriage, the deaths of his parents, the child of his oldest daughter—nothing has touched him since those leaves lifted him off the ground and into the middle air. The middle air is alive. He is waiting for it to happen to him again. While he sharpens the knives he watches for signs. Is there a lightness in him? Is this day becoming his memory of that day, is he finally being reclaimed by the moment he has never left? He cuts himself. He has not cut himself in years—he is deft. Nevertheless, his blood mingles with the lamb’s blood. Perhaps this is the sign.
The coins stain M’s hands red. At home, her mother asks her where she has been playing. M says, “At the butcher’s.” M’s mother says, “Keep your distance from that man. He’s becoming clumsy.”
Evelyn Hampton lives in California. Her first book, DISCOMFORT, has just come out from Ellipsis Press.