TRIPTYCH OF FALLING STARS by Wayland Tracy

Every night I hear the screams of myself far away. I beg for help but I will not help. In a ditch by the tracks, full of golf balls and bones of careless creatures. White quartz set in circles. I lie down and I am falling. Can’t find the earth. The noises of town rattle like deathbed confessions. Trains hurtle past. The stars encroach. We once had lights that prolonged days. I scrounge for bones with meat clinging on. I once had a table. Pictures of people stuffed into cracked walls, maps that do not help me. No children anymore. Hawks fly full-on head first into trees. Cats and dogs are buried, dug up. Men scream and tear at their own bodies. Become puddles in the streets. My dreams pound my head in continuum of the day. Day pours out of night. A single gunshot every hour. I know what berries will kill me. I’ve buried strangers but I do not kiss them anymore. I howl on my back. Coyotes smell my piss and hope I don’t get up. I found my mother with a meteorite lodged in her heart. My father runs north following the deer. I pick up a golf ball and throw it into the sky. Rabbits cry in their dens. The man who counts crawls into my ditch. The golf ball becomes a star. I poisoned a woman at my table. I beat a dog. I cut the leg off a boy and threw it in the river two days later. Please believe me. The star falls, then the rest.

Through the fields and hills, far away, I follow the deer. I carry a rifle and one bullet. They know my purpose. I eat the grasses and berries they eat. I drink from the streams they drink. I shout at wolves. I carve faces. I follow the descent of owls, the little screams, circling vultures. Lights of unnatural color move among the stars. I write to my wife and son. Letters placed in the hollows of trees and under rocks. A gray man followed me for three days. He scared the deer. A fawn nuzzles my head. I hold it and weep. I cut its side to remember. I eat mushrooms glowing at night. I sleep while I walk. The head of a buck seared to a meteorite. I pray. I burn my clothes. Snow sticks to my skin. Wolves seduce the fawn. The gray man returns. He speaks through the steaming stones, words of my voice, a mirror of ice, one man drowning. The deer wait for me. I beg them forward. I point my gun and the gray man charges.

I long to be the woman of the candlelit painting, floating in a river. All my blankets are gone. I scrape mold from cheese. I wear curtains, sit in corners. A boy climbed to my roof and has not come down. My neighbor tells me she intends to go to the moon without her husband. I never trusted her. Never open the door. I wave a revolver at a mouse. It was my husband’s. Coyotes sit on my porch every night, scratching the door, shaking the handle. I tell them about my day. I chew on salted wood. My father plays me his harp. He sits in the tree outside the kitchen window every morning. I knew it to be him right away by his smile. Such a smile you don’t see anymore. I cannot bear the noises. I tie rags around my ears. I hum till my throat is sore. The coyotes leave when the census man comes. I show my gun through the window. My father shows me the place I must sit when it is time. I watch my neighbor kneel on the tracks. The census man slips papers under the door. I burn them. I know of a place where the floors aren’t cold, where I might see my family again. I whisper into black holes, to mice no longer gathering my hair. Scurry now, friends. I confess. I sing in the fire of paintings, the clouds of heaven. The shrieking sky opens.


Wayland Tracy lives in Wichita, Kansas where he sells flowers wholesale and plays drums for Ponyboy.
 

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

Read Next: THERE WAS A LADY WHO HAD SHARKS UNDER HER SKIN by Philip Webb-Gregg