I’m on the wrong side. You’ve forgotten your pitchfork. I’m not scowling at you, wearing a dress, or posing as your wife when really I’m your sister. You’re not wearing the bibs you don’t own. You still have all your hair. The trees behind us are not the shape of orbs and the house is one in which we never lived. We buy a magnet. We consider donning costumes. The gardener who is also the photographer who is also the cashier doesn’t mind the humidity, the cicadas’ song, the drone of tractors, or maybe semis, maybe the highway we took to get this picture. I’m looking for Rosanne Barr’s ex-husband who bought a house here once, rode a bicycle on RAGBRAI, any proof of mists that divide, impossible deaths, a possible life. You’re looking at the map in your head, the one you point to in the air showing me where we’re going next. I’m listening, practicing that magic. You’re telling me you’re the hero of this Midwestern American tale. I nod because today you are. Here we stand, side by side in Iowa, fecund and green, no pitchfork between us, just our hands.
~ Laura Madeline Wiseman
From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016).
Also appeared in California Ekphrasis, January 2016.
Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).
One thought on “Returning to this American Gothic — by Laura Madeline Wiseman”
I like this a lot. My husband is from Iowa and he’s always had mixed feelings about this painting. You capture that well.