Unsaid 7: from JOHN THE POSTHUMOUS, by Jason Schwartz


The porch light: this scatters the cats. I sweep the patio every two weeks, and clean it with bleach in summer and fall. The wind in the pickets, I should think, terrifies the mice. But now I have lost the sun again. A squirrel drowns one Monday in a flowerpot. I bait the traps with meat, and cut the branches along the path. I trip—you see?—on the last step.

The object nailed to the tree small and wooden, but not a doll.

The Rowan children would feign death on the doorstep of the first house; and in the yard of the second house, before a shed and a hedgerow; and in a field of weeds beyond the third house, next to a barn, the name and the hex sign upside down.

A newspaper account describes a boy of five, caught beneath a maple gate for sixteen hours—outside the Milton house, on Bird Road, in Whitebriar, Pennsylvania, 1953.

In folklore, the orphans cross one road and then another—having traveled due south for three days, or perhaps four; and having discovered a breach in the greenery; and having surmounted a low wall or fence–arriving at your door in the middle of the night.

The trap in the crocus patch: this breaks the rat’s neck.

The patio: two columns, a lantern, and a wrought-iron bench. Doll parts are arranged on the lawn. A few of the taller trees—these are diseased. Needle blight, is it not? I water the annuals in the afternoon. The dog pursues the birds quite ruefully, it seems to me, falling just before the porch door. I set the tacks on rags and cover them with ash.

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