Two Works by Shannon Hozinec
The Middle-Aged Bluebells
By September, all of my boyfriends will be dead or at least all dry and shriveled up.
The best time to harvest them (according to our mothers) is now, in the lush of May, when their hands are still soft and they still think to clean underneath their fingernails. So this is when we do it. My friends and me, we sit on logs near some abandoned park, snorting sawdust to impress our older brothers and the boys and their older brothers.
The boys stand together: hey jane, hey jane, they call, voices getting smaller and smaller as they wrap around the curves of the monkey bars and the sharp, uncared-for edges of the seesaw, molding themselves around pieces of metal older than themselves, older than us, older than our brothers and our mothers and the land we stand upon. They are too old to exist on playgrounds. None of us are named Jane.
Once the sun begins to set, our brothers and their brothers scramble away, hooting like drunken owls as they ride away on the back of a dusty green pickup. The boys who are left take us to task for the state of our knees and wet the smalls of our backs with their warm spit.
Our Shared Perspiration is a Fire Hazard
There is everything beautiful about a horse gestating but nothing at all about a human doing the same. There is nothing human in it at all. There are no humans here but us. The barn is quiet, the only light yawning from a candle placed ten feet away. The horses seem content to shuffle background noise to lull us to sleep, but we are not tired.
They seem unhappy in their marriage, you whisper in my ear as we lie on a bed of straw – real straw. This is not metaphorical straw. This is not a metaphor. There is real danger to that straw, to us, from that candle. Still, the candle stays lit. Don’t give me those city lights, that extra-florescence, I have told you before. I prefer the authenticity of a lit candle, even if it is made of beeswax and does nothing to cover up the scent of manure.
These things have been sent to try us, I remind you. These things have been sent to pry us apart.
You seem unlikely to stand for this, for the prying apart, of us or of others. The horses begin to stir at your dislike of tradition, scuff their hooves on the ground and snort air through their nostrils, trying to tell us something. I am happy in my marriage, I tell them, and you, and maybe myself. You press your fingers to my lips and try to make me ignore the disquiet. We will be happy in our marriage, in our little bed of straw. We write fake obituaries for our parents and press our bodies together and seal them with candle wax. We will not be pried apart. We lick our edges shut and try to forget the sight of dead horses.