This article is taken from Stand 235, 20(3) September - November 2022.

Douglas W. Milliken Rag Eyes
Sister, are the scenes I imagined wherein you’re dead—your head coconutted open on a stone, your back and scalp the only visible part of you bobbing above a dark lake’s face—these being the catalysts that really made me love you, cherish you enough to call you my sister: was that wrong of me? To never let escape from my mind the potential of your disassembly by car wreck? Your hand caught and gobbled in a potato-house conveyor, the rest of you obediently if unwillingly chasing after? Was it because I’d imagined you peppered with holes due to the fickle savagery of one or another arrogant man’s war that your recruiter friend, free now as ever before, ultimately ripped you with ordnance apart? Is it my fault, because I feared you dead, that you finally had no option but to die?

You were never even given a chance to age out of your stubborn baby fat, that thing you worked so vengefully to melt yet alone was the attribute that dulled your standoffish edge. The isolated softness of you.

In one instance specifically, though, it’d have been better if you’d remained unapproachable.

And while I tend alone now our mother’s farm and apothecary—harvesting tansy for accidental moms, feeding garlic to toads and chasing her red hen off my account books and ink blotter and desk—only gradually am I coming to realize that I very likely never learned how to correctly love. It’s likely that love and death have always shared the same landscape in my ...
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