The Ledbetters have the biggest pasture
with a wide, rolling hill that opens to mountains
melting in the distance.
It’s the only place that gives some space
from the woods, the vines, the dense brown smells
of everything living and twining around your breath.
Bad Jamie used to slip out there with buddies
and smoke a joint, take some pills,
watch the stars come closer, retreat,
come closer, retreat,
and slide down into his belly
laid bare in the sticky summer night.
Girl Jamie comes in the day and finds the right spot
with plenty of distance between cow shits
so that she can stretch her arms to her sides or above her head
and watch the blue skies race through the unobstructed view.
The cumulus clouds shape and break at her thoughts
and the sun lights them into rims of black and yellow and silver.
When Girl Jamie holds her breath, she sees the granny birds
plunge into the mounds of vapor and reemerge.
They carry strands of heaven down with them
and Girl Jamie guesses they’ve been lining the attic with that stuff
for a while now. The great-granny bird swoops close
and leaves a white star of droppings just beside Girl Jamie’s left hand.
“You’re real and you’re not,” Girl Jamie calls out
as the bird glides away.
“I’m real and I’m not,” she whispers as she slips off her shirt
and lets the sun warm her like it would warm the white fur underbelly
of a very wild thing.
Jessica Fordham Kidd is a lifelong Alabamian. She is the associate director of first-year writing at the University of Alabama, and her poems have appeared in Drunken Boat
, Goblin Fruit
, and The Paris Review
more by Jessica Fordham Kidd:
The Birth of Bad Jamie