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Corn Goddess
by Stephanie Dickinson

CORN GODDESS

In the farmhouse it is a summer Saturday night and there is too much moon to sleep  

Although she hears her grandmother snore from
downstairs and crickets clamor so loudly
they seem to chirp from the closet where her grandfather’s
old suits drown in cellophane. She kneels
before the screen. Such a blaze—
tall green corn stalks gleam with dew. She wants
to walk into corn in her just beginning body,
breathe the mustiness and lick the green
of its sweat.
 
Instead she tiptoes down the hall to the guest room where her brother slumbers in
the bride bed with heavy walnut bedboard.

His blond friend is awake in the chair with cushions
that feel like cattail skins. Come here, he says,
pulling her into his lap. He kisses her, his teeth tiny
like the milk teeth of baby ear corn. He wears glasses
and her nose bumps them when he slides tongue into
her mouth. She wants him to take his kiss out
when she hears steps on the stairway.
 
A hand touches its way along in the dark. It slips along the banister’s smoothness.
What is it?

But she goes back to kissing and drinking in
the nearness of the forbidden bed where the uncles and
their wives slept under the green spread, thighs
on ironed sheets. This is what after midnight feels like.
A boy’s lips tasting the same as his fingers. But
what is coming out of him, inching up her leg?
 
The air thickens, smells of talc and field corn, of ears turning to kernels of dirt, mice surviving
blind in corncribs of half a century ago.

Moon streams from her grizzled yellow hair that reaches
to her knees, a quivering corn silk. Her mouth opens.
“Bad girl,” grandmother hisses, a gopher hole into toothless black.

 
 
 
 

 

 
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