Near Easter her mother dies and Alice is alone
at fifty-three; her heart drills her chest.
The days meander, smelling of ashtrays. Cramped
houses with shining roofs in lateness circle a blackness at
the center of an expectation. The woodpecker seen through a
den window, buff and crosshatched feathers, rattles an
oak while a dog yips in the sky, hard as hammerstrikes.
Rain stipples the pond. Alice frowns into the quiet wars of a
book by the lamp on a burnished desk.
Her life is whiskey and silky while the last
storms of winter raise chalk puffs and whirligig
phantoms: the ghosts she will address in Sunday
song with the choir, the precious nowhere dead.
Blameless Alice, a chorister like the birds in
the days of boney woods, thorns and frost. Triumph swells
in her and the delight of the sleepy fox.
About the Author: James Robison won a Whiting Grant for his short fiction and a Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his first novel. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize 1995, Grand Street, The New Yorker, The Manchester Review and elsewhere. He was 2011 Visiting Artist at The University of Southern Mississippi. He is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for 2012 and his story appears in that anthology’s 2013 edition.
Image: (c) jev55