Cross Plains
Sara Fetherolf
In the second town it rained live minnows. 
They flickered in the parking lot 
when we got to school. 
Mom worried the high-tension wires 
would give us cancer. The library 
was mildewy with lead paint. 
I read all the Nancy Drews. I didn't know 
it was cicadas making the mystery 
buzz above. I suspected the high-tension wires. 
I read Night of the Twisters—
his house hauled into the air, away, 
while the boy waits in the basement.

They say it sounds like a train in the distance. 
They say the drains make a sucking sound. 
The air turns green.

In the second town I wasn't afraid of anything yet. 
If there was a ghost I wanted to see it—peered up
the chimney where it swooped and
panicked like a trapped bird. Drip stains, names
carved at the back: it looks like a tombstone 
in there, I told my brother. Over the mantle, the clock 
quivered and shot 
off its nail.

Mom lay
on her made bed—the cornfield was too big, she had
a headache to look at it. She said we made it up, hid 
the clock in the basement.

That year the siren went off 6 times but the town 
was always safe. Once the radio said waterspouts had crossed 
the Mississippi, but they never came. 
Fishing in a flooded campsite, dad caught a monster 
pike. Its meat tasted saltless, rivery, hard to explain.
Sara Fetherolf was born in California, raised in the Midwest, came of age in the backwoods of New Jersey, and lives in Brooklyn these days. She holds an MFA degree from Hunter College, where she also teaches. Her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Emrys Journal, Madcap, Red Paint Hill and Heron Tree, among others.


more by Sara Fetherolf:
Ptarmigan Point