Sylvie of the Stone Stoop Published in Intermission, November 2018 poetry I talk with Sylvie of the stone stoop as her hand digs around in the Cheetos bag for crumbs and her bare feet swaddled in socks
made entirely of dirt trace circles in the pea rocks. The humidity is already buzzing every insect in the county
on a breezeless breathless day so I speak up knowing her momma is listening on the other side
of the screen door. Sylvie builds mountains of pea rocks surrounding a crater where her castle grows formidable and queens
are kings and her queen commands armies of lionesses who stalk the perimeter of the realm so quietly
not even a goddess could hear. Sylvie’s cousin from St. Louie mounts an attack to break all of the beautiful things
in the kingdom and is then banished to the weeds by the dislodged drain pipe where he will be eaten later
by rats. After we have named everything in the grocery bags I brought and the afternoon is just beginning
to wring out the morning we stand to do the goodbye dance and I promise to come inside next time.
My voice slides off the ripped screen door. On my way down the gravel road I turn back to claim my forgotten messenger bag.
Picking my way through the weeds by the drain pipe I round the corner as Sylvie questions,
“Momma, why don’t we like her again?” Sylvie’s momma sighs drags deep and long on her Pall Mall
then exhales, “Damn it, Sylvie. She ain’t Jesus people.” I cannot get
her words in my ears and I am not certain I can stand to hold these lonely things.