She Made Us
We all knew she would go. She had to. All of us knew which one was her house: the small one, the falling apart one, the shack, the one that was always gray, on it and around it. Most of us gave it a wide berth, but some of us, the braver or meaner or most show-offy of us, when we were young, had even gotten close enough to smell it. It smelled bad. It stunk. We said, then, that it smelled like cat piss or like garbage or like rotten eggs or like toilet, but really it smelled like something none of us could really say. We pinched our noses and shrieked and ran. It smelled like something no one ever wants to smell. It smelled like whatever went on inside it.
I could hardly stand it there. I could not stand in it. But neither could I move, get out or fall. Whatever it was, it felt like that, like falling, like I was about to fall but couldn’t, didn’t, yet, but hung suspended, wrought. I think I tried or wanted to try or would have tried to tell them—someone—you? Somebody else... Though who would not have mattered: no one heard.
Inside it felt like eels, like the inside of a cave. It felt like dampness, clammy, wet. It smelled like something dripping, warm, like something wrong that needed fixing, something growing in a way that it should not. I felt it on my legs.
Would someone come? A rescue? Or do something else? Would someone leave?
She showed up, sometimes, to where we were: the store, the play yard, the school. Usually we were playing. Usually we were sucking on whistle pops. Usually we were punching at each other, chasing, yelling swear words, sticky-mouthed, climbing up away from each other and then jumping back down towards, or on, tumbling. And then she would come and we weren’t anymore, or we couldn’t, or we could, we were, but not in the way we had been.
We hated her. She made us embarrassed. She made us watched. She made us feel required of. She made us guilty. She made us not have fun. We threw stones at her.
She from the field, go back to the field. She from the gray house, go back to the gray house. Be enveloped in clothing, run or be whisked. She from the smell, be gone, entirely.
Everything was hated: me, the way I was, the way I fit and did not fit. How could I not be loathed if I were that, the thing I was of her? I wanted to slip away from it. I tried to fall inside of it or out, away. I wanted to go back before I came from there, from where I couldn’t where the house where I would always stay, could not escape as if not only skin but everything I was or wore, each way I could be hit or caught or eeled, stoned would not escape for I could not for I had come from her and so I was.
Suzanne Oliver won the Wesley Orton Prize for speculative poetry for her first book, Circle of Daisies, published in 2003 by Wylde Solander Press. Her work has also appeared in numerous places, including Jarymanice: A Journal of the Arts, Two Part Inventions, Geneoddities, and The Fernando Pessoa Newsletter. For ten years, Suzanne played bass with the rock band Sr. Sidewalk. She lives in the West.