a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Get ready. It’s coming.
Ready is a lied thing like when my husband asked me if I was ready each time my water broke. I clean his revolver. The polish rag’s black stripes of chain and barrel. I wear my mother’s locket with my baby hair in it.
Get ready. It’s sure coming.
When I set up house, Mamaw said, You’ll be wanting everything having its place when we can’t do nothing about what’s outside your door. She was right. We had just six years before the river killed my husband. I forgot to tell her thank you for the clean sink, the towels and linens in one closet.
I pack easily. I listen through the rain. It isn’t tapping down a sill but puddle steps, rushing a mud road.
Mamaw says, You have to go on now. Wear my coat and your father’s over yours. For the babies later.
The levee didn’t holler. I thought it would crash. I thought I’d hear a crumbling assault. It was just loudness—more of the wet until weight dragged a barn, a plow. The sound was a carrying. Ready is a lied thing, but I carry camphor, socks, Van Van Oil and holy water. I look around one more time. Walls. Tables. Floors. I have all I can hold. The veins on Mamaw’s legs raise up, crinkle. She is too slow, too stiff to carry with us.
Mamaw says, Stop that looking down. You have to leave now for dry land. Levee busted. My body will holler out, but don’t you heed that. My goodbyes always been loud, girl.
Heather Dobbins is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She is the author of two poetry collections, In the Low Houses (2014) and River Mouth (2017), both from Kelsay Press. She graduated from the College Scholars program at the University of Tennessee and earned her MFA from Bennington College. Her poems and micro-fiction have been published in Laurel Review, Dream Pop, Burrow Press, and Coastal Shelf, among others. She lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with her husband and their three sons.