March 21, 2022 by The Citron Review
by Amber Wozniak
we are captivated by the big blue house. caught taunt on the dagger spokes of the rusting spiral staircase, captured by the deer who feast daily on the peonies. captives kept fat on .3 acres of gaping suburbia that threatens to swallow us whole.
stella says, “mama, the trees here hold up the sky.”
there is a doe with a ceaseless maw. we toss apple cores and fetid strawberries not quite burst, beg her to leave the daffodils. she is incorrigible. she inexplicably eats the larkspur that should by all means fell her. i show her diagrams, explain that this is not the wild that we wanted. she blinks and leaves droppings at my daughter’s feet. stella cries.
the old man across the street tosses sheets of food to the deer every day. one day we count twelve, but my husband does not believe us when we tell the tale and i cannot remember if that is the number of sheets or deer when questioned. stella shouts for them to leave mama’s freaking flowers alone, shakes her toddler fist as they meander into our yard. we are crazed with saving our bounty, spray the leaves relentlessly with peppermint. the old man across the street tosses us a strange look before hurrying inside. the deer do not look at all, stoic with antlers so looming that they pierce the clouds shielding our stars.
stella asks, “mama, are those deers holding up the sky?”
i purchase the wildflowers online; one click is all it takes to provide the coupling and creation right on our front lawn. they burst forward in 6 to 8 weeks. we all flourish in the rain, beads of water slickening our skin. bees toil and gentle webs are made and unmade each day. sunlight creeps in a sugary haze that descends upon our skin. the moon is juicy ripe, everything flourishes. the old man sits on his porch, rocking and eyeing us furtively as he polishes the metal sheet that delivers chunks of bread to his babies. the deer keep to their side of the street.
ten weeks pass in the big blue house. the bushes are weeping, strangled by some sort of wild violet. there the stalks are so full of themselves that they heave forward, snapping at the middle. the daffodils and peonies are overrun. we no longer move through the front lawn idly; vines slide forward and wrap around stella’s tiny feet. the old man and the deer openly watch as we dance through torrents of pulpy rain. we snap at them, snarl if the deer approach. we blow dandelions like a spray of bullets, urging them to grow. we howl as we propagate wishes, extend our hands toward the ever-present moon.
stella says, “mama, look. we hold up the sky.”
Amber Wozniak is, above all things, an eldest daughter. Her other works have appeared on The Keeping Room and Litro, as well as in The Raw Art Review. Amber can be found at amberwozniak.com or @AmberLWozniak on Instagram.