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J. C. Reilly

Sure that they have trudged
this track twice already, she veers
left at a break in the rows
while her siblings keep straight.
Their low voices carry a bit on the wind,
“you’ll be sorrys” clutching
at her the way a stalk suddenly seems
to snap at her hair or snag her overalls.

Rustling flags of Gold Queen
leaves soon sweep husky chatter
deep into the maze, and for all the ears
around her, she can’t hear them now.
Younger, she might have panicked
at the dead ends, the impulsive corner
turns, the back-tracking sameness
of paths that promise escape but lure her
down corridors of glume-laden
tassels waving on endless stalks.

But now, as she comes to a clearing,
and stares overhead at horse white clouds
galloping across a too-blue-for-October sky,
the wind shaking the leaves
like a thousand rattlers blows a kernel
of truth her way: that she can’t be lost,
not she who draws earth energy
through her feet to her heart to her lungs,
and releases it back to creation
with breath and thanks
as every Sibley woman before her has done.

She breaks off a cob, peels away the floss,
and tosses it free. It glints like a flame,
like a faerie on a fresh burst of wind —
flying eastward, towards exit, towards home.

Issue 9, 2017, pg. 84