Clouds The first thing I remember of Winston Walker is that Saturday afternoon he shot me in the eye. BB the size of a mockingbird iris and about as yellow. Arm draped over the fence, I watched him walking toward me. Cock Pop Cock Pop. Wasps nested. Screams covered me. Ice cubes froze the sting blue. Weeks later my sight, sharp as ever. But the pasty scar tissue turned my head down, hid the eye behind cloud cover. No meteor showers visible. Just an ugly white glob Winston Walker called an accident no doctor could erase till I was sixteen and had moved to Atlanta. He scraped clouds off blue iris—ashen crater in its place. When I raised my lid, the sky appeared. After twenty years Winston Walker telephoned. Honest to God, I just wanted to scare you. Said he dreamed I shot him full of Adriamycin exploding under his skin infrared starbursts burning every breathing cell. Then, in November, I expected him at New Hope to be cremated, ashes scattered where he hunted whitetail deer. In a simple casket he was lowered near his mother. Shadows passed through us—Canadian geese gliding toward the Gulf.
Close to the Edge Fog on the horizon hides hard island edges. Near the patio sprinklers swish: streams rise in sun before falling in the garden. Six plastic-pink flamingoes parade by the sago palm. A pair of dolphins, together still after twenty years, watch from the granite fountain. Stripping an apple, peel swinging in air, I think of Mother who sliced what grew around her. From wood the size of playing cards she whittled small animals: our cat on haunches, neck turned. She carved a woman on her knees, mostly stomach, hands buried her bowed face. Santa Ana winds blow dry scatter dust in their wake. Hummingbirds circle coral bells. Their wings, shadow puppets on stucco. Heavy with petals dahlias bend to rocky dirt. Once I caught a Regal Moth— panes of ruby and jade. For three days, she flew. Tonight my namesake calls voice gravelly, emerging from Minnesota. At 18 Satan and God crowd her head. No meds can wash them out. God will kill you for leaving me. I squeeze the receiver not forgetting her butterfly nightshirt— wings pressed against me.
Chella Courington (she/they) is a writer and teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including Anti-Heroin Chic, Lavender Review, and San Pedro River Review. With six chapbooks of poetry, she recently published a lyrical novella, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing). A Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net Nominee, Courington was raised in the Appalachian south and now lives in California.