Robert Kloss

from The Valley below His Black Mountain

And so your mother lay bleeding and pale in the tangled sheets and the women in their bonnets and house dresses before her crossed themselves and muttered prayers unto her soul as you red faced and dripping announced yourself wailing into the world. And your father called from his sorrow that he could never again gaze upon this woman, nor could he again name her but with a strangled sound, and when with his moans and gnashing he commanded her taken away they wrapped her and carried her in those very sheets, blood matted and sticky with viscera, fly gathered already, to the edge of what was considered the yard. And so too were all images and possessions of this woman carried in bed sheets to the yard and set afire. Of this woman there now remains but a single marker; and one may find some remnant of her stone, even now, if they understand where the pasture once lay. And your father regarded you from the edge of the room, you the last vestige of this lost life, and he said unto his sister, “What shall I do with this one?” and only after some consideration did your aunt say, “I will tend after him. I will tend after the both of you.” And how in the brief years to follow your aunt was carried off in a fever and then your father was himself compelled to the soil, his blood misted before the plow and into the mysterious overgrowth his hired man fled with the woman your father wed to raise you, to instruct you, whose image you carry even now within your mind as “Mother,” and so it was you toddled into the dust and lay upon this man and when they found you against your father, in the full gaze of the sun, they said you were “red with [your] father.”

Robert Kloss is the author of How the Days of Love & Diphtheria (Mud Luscious Press/Nephew) and The Alligators of Abraham (Mud Luscious Press, 2012). He is found online at rkbirdsofprey.blogspot.com.

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