The neighbors know me here. "Tall gal." A toot of the horn. A wave. Eyes on the road, moving on. If they got close, they could probably smell me, as I smell them. The fraught air of chickens. Cigarettes stale or burning on the breath. Always, the fat scent of meat. Can my neighbors smell the man, the children, who feast on me, ticks on a fat bitch? Shouldn't the blue of delphiniums be dimmed in the dark? Shouldn't the roses' blousy heads bend beneath the leaves? Crickets hoot a hypnotic opera. Frogs bleat lovelorn laments. Enough. Enough.
The goat hangs like a sacrifice from a tree behind our house. Boys approach first, slowly, touch its shredded paper hair of yellow, red and blue. I hand the biggest boy a stick. He hesitates, eyes wide. "Hit it," I say, pointing to the goat. The children understand that the goat isn't real, but why does it hang and why hit it? "Surprise," I say, "in the stomach." The birthday boy swings. Then two more boys grab sticks and whack the goat. Girls in starched cotton dresses, mouths tense, slam with as much force as their small bodies allow. Mothers lunge for daughters' shoulders. One father, tall with hair the color of bleached wheat, grabs a stick and whoosh, bashes the goat's belly. The children stop, mouths open in shock, then rush forward as caramels and taffy, squares of black licorice twisted in waxed paper patchwork the grass.
is the author of Mall Flower, poems and short fiction
. Her writing appears in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Best Small Fictions 2016, The American Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, Blue Fifth Review
and Exposure, an Anthology of Micro-fiction
. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize and several Best of the Net awards. Tina is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn, and a writing tutor at SUNY Ulster. In 2014, she received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Long Island University, Brooklyn.