7.01 / January 2012

Four Stories

Farm Town: The Wolf

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Disguised as a lover, he was all clover.  Dressed as a December hunter: a genuine risk.  He waited me out in the snowy hedge.   I said go home, predator, but he became a Compulsive Visitor.  Knock knock he called with his teeth. Knock knock he called without knocking at all.  He said, I saw those large snow patches and thought you’d need help melting them. I battened the hatches, eyed him through discount curtains.  Beneath the moonlight he poached field eggs, stripped wild grass, drained the milk keg, dismembered the rabbit hutch.  He knotted the hose through the branches like sin. The mailbox spilled quills, spit fur at visitors. The Wolf shammed an exit but recurred while I dreamed of cartoon buzzsaws, of rolling pin pursuits, of tarring and feathering him. I discovered fire. You’ll like it, he hissed.  But spring made good and caused the ice to crack.  The Wolf tumbled toward the Big Sea Coast. He floated out into summer because his mama never taught him manners and he never learned to swim. Autumn now. I still feel fangs through the door: Just this once, he asks without asking at all.


Farm Town: Dispatch From Venus

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Sister planet, I’m checking in with my yarn and tin can.   Sister planet, you boil my heart at nine hundred degrees.  You’re a little bit littler than me.  You stole my hurricane disposition.   Ashes to ashes, blood to rust.  No water here, no farms, no radio stations we can tune and pull the carpet up to.  No voices we might swoon to in golly gee sister fashion, but lava fields instead, and every moment a tanning bed for ladies only.  I always wanted a twin, and here she is, not so similar to me but just enough to be bitter about not having a twin legitimately. I put my hand to a candle and she flinches.   I put sugar on my tongue and she spits it. I pull the laundry from the line and replace it with protective weather because, wherever we go, there’s likely to be some deficit: rain, angst, volcano.  I vacation on Neptune and send her postcards of beefcake seaside men neither of us could get. Wish you were here scorching corneas with me! I have a sister whose thirst betrays the fact that she was named for love and beauty. I have a sister whose orbit devours me.


Farm Town: The Old Maid Is Cast Out

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Once upon a time God if you believe said let there be Farm Town.  No air conditioning, but social conditioning instead with men being men etcetera, and solitary women.  The men worked like handsome machines, the women played charades, splayed cards.  I won as I waited in corners, won again and again with mute attention paid to my own shamming, my devices, my desire to be husbanded.  I guessed Rapunzel, Maid Marian, Margaret Sanger. I guessed rabies, newborn babies dressed in costumes, opium tea parties for ladies.  I stayed indoors, never strayed just in case the non-existent doorbell rang. I donned a dress in the parlor and once waited six months for a gentleman caller.  No one came, at least not properly.  No one came and came.  A man in red stole through the orchard with a rake and we faked tenderly.  Another who looked much the same brought a bucket of water to the mouths of hedges shaped like animals. All of this effort when the actual flocks suffered beyond the barn, while the river split in six directions, while the fence begat fence toward an end of town I’d never seen.  Funny thing: when he left, it rained.  I loosed the door from its hinges and the wind swept me up into its arms like a witch.  The farm is a thirst, so I thirsted at first.  Though the farm is a godless constant, I switched.


Farm Town: Jezebel

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The farm is a bitch: mustard seeds thrice blighted by fire and drought.  Who can predict the future, the fornication, the Santa Ana winds assaulting the weather?  I sure as hell can’t. I’m signing off, checking out for a spell.  The Dark Sauna gets too hot, and the stained-glass windows I bought show signs of cracking.  They’ve cut power to the Love Shack, the Fireworks Stand, the Motel.  They hung yellow crime scene tape around the Outdoor Shower; I guess we’re getting a little anxious here, and Farms aren’t transcendent. I’ve got my cartoon lipstick on like a blasphemous Disney princess, my finest overalls, the top of the haystack downtown with my name on it. I’ll lead the farm into twilight from a throne in the Scary Barn and relinquish my assets.  Good riddance-I won’t miss them. There is a feeling in my heart-green, tinny, flowering out-but it’s neither envy nor deception. No longer will I bed down in my Farm Town shack, where I feel hands beneath the sheets shoving me seventeen stories down.  I have eyes like fire and feet like brass.  The last things I want are attention or captives.


Ashley Farmer writes and teaches in Long Beach, California. Her work can be found in/forthcoming from Hobart, > kill author, The Collagist, and elsewhere. She's an associate editor for Juked.
7.01 / January 2012

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