Imagine her hair under that bonnet, sparse and thin, of vacant color, a grass patch during hard times. The cushions shed their purpose. She has forgot her own name.
Imagine how the hard-edged chair draws the day right out of her blood, and how her gray eyes exhaust the window. A child of hers is promised to arrive, to shovel dirt she once threw like flour halfway across the field. Rebellion, and joy.
Imagine how she accepts the bend in picking asparagus -- which you have also plucked and tasted and relished-- that grows down by Spruce Road. For a moment she waits for her back to straighten and for a spasm in her lungs to pass. Years stretch like dough. The carriage arrives and drives on.
Imagine the thousands of loaves carved from her breast, the milk she has squandered. Imagine the dark when the dark comes and the quiet when the quiet descends, no music, which must be the loneliest sort of existence. The church rhymes in her head are enough news; she doesn't need or want the paper you have gone down the road to retrieve. She is not of your world, never has been.
You cannot know her pain, and your imagining it is a slight form of honor, as well as choice betrayal. You have not spoken; she does not speak. Her mouth is a stitch of plain black thread, with the bonnet to match and keep hold of her brain.
Imagine the needles she keeps close, piercing the leather of a small folded satchel, and bobbins all run out of flax. You may find her grunting on the floor, in the manner of a goat, to find what she let fall and roll under the table.
The doorknob coddles her clutch. Her feet have shrunk in their shoes. The ladder rung chisels her each instep while chickens cluck and fear, their wings beating where she’s turned her back. Oh, Host of Angels. Oh, Mighty Grace. Her arms and legs are treasonous thought. First one egg, then she loses the half dozen. Sorry mess in the straw God knits His brow over, glowers over, aping you and her neighbors, withholding language and judgments.
Imagine her face and still-sewn mouth assigned to dirt and dung and the yolk, the black cuneiform, the barn broke open, its hens seizing toward the ditch.
Donna's stories--and a few poems--have appeared in dozens of print and online venues, including Hawaii Review, Meridian, Mid-American Review, Front Porch Journal, Storyglossia, Night Train, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Word Riot, Dogzplot, Smokelong Quarterly, Juked, Freight Stories, and Another Chicago Magazine. She's currently working the first draft of a novel titled In Euphoria. Her admiration for the Amish runs the gamut-- from their commitment to family and community, their less harried lifestyle and their organic foods to their basic black dress. Especially the black dress part.