Return to Permafrost Issue 38.2

Scapegoat

by  Mary Christensen


You told me Appalachia
turns women crazy.
 
That maybe the humidity,
which never really washes off,
seals something sick inside
 
or kudzu, invasive, creeps
up their legs as they clean
green worms from heirlooms.
 
You said the woman who lives
on your long dirt road talks to a
goat named after her last husband.
 
That in curlers and a headscarf
she chases it with a rolling pin,
wanting to know if it screwed
the sheep next door, yelling at it
please love me.
 
You tell me this over burnt coffee,
the same morning you ask me about
big cities, if I think you’d like Atlanta
or Tampa, or maybe even Phoenix
with its dry heat and mirages,
 
while at home, your wife, who never
held a baby long, follows chicken blood
to a fox den, a rifle cocked at her side,
a half-plucked body in the crook
of her arm.