“A Real Kicker”

He is there, Caitlin’s father, on the burnt brown summer grass, pulling weeds by the sidewalk and I do not know this is the last day I will see him—how my mama waits for him to say something, waits for him to recognize her, how she is standing there with her newly muscled arms fresh from Lindy Kramer’s weight-lifting class at the YMCA, it is amazing how many Delta women have signed up for this streamlined fish of a woman’s class, how she will push you harder than you’ve ever been pushed, further than you’ve ever felt yourself go, but today is the last day we will see him, Mama and me, on the sidewalk in front of Caitlin’s front door, we don’t know that he’ll be found curled around two guns in the garage, one swift bullet above his wife’s collarbone, but today it is enough to watch him pull weeds in his front yard, is it overgrown? full of dandelions? I can’t remember, it’s been twenty-four years and I’m a wife now, not a mother, and Caitlin just lost her first baby, only she didn’t tell me, Mama heard about it from her aunt’s best friend, and when Mama told me the word private flashed across my brain: Oh, Mama, it’s too private, I said to her, and she went, Nonsense, Sarah Baxter knows everything about it—a tubal pregnancy, they had to do a D&C, it was very recent, so I sent Caitlin an email, Sorry for your loss, and she wrote back: You are so sweet, my Aunt Hazel lived a long and full life—she was ninety-three years old, got to live in her own house until she died, raised five kids, volunteered for the Girl Scouts for sixty years, started weaving groups using her own looms, planted over a hundred kinds of day lilies, made divine plum jam, could sing and play the washboard—she was a real kicker.

Anne Dyer Stuart

About Anne Dyer Stuart

Anne Dyer Stuart won New South journal’s 2012 prose prize and received the Henfield/Transatlantic Prize from the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation. Her work has appeared in New World Writing, Lake Effect, Exit 7, Pembroke Magazine, Poet Lore, The Louisville Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Third Coast, Best of the Web, storySouth and elsewhere. She teaches at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.