A More Innocent Time
His long plaid arm snaked around my waist, and
took the reins from my hands, signaling my ride
was almost over. The coming unwelcome routine
was the price I paid to ride. “Just lean back on me,”
his redneck voice requested, but I stayed rigidly upright.
Undeterred, his calloused hand explored my t-shirt
finding two small hillocks.
A brief, unspoken war was conducted at a bone-jarring
trot. I pushed his hand down; it crept up again. At 10,
I was too naïve to feel threatened, but an instinctual
unease was confirmed when his hand dropped each
time Dad’s dusty ’52 Chevy drove down the gravel road.
The redneck and his horse disappeared amid a roiling cloud
of whispers at summer’s end. I asked my dad where
he was, and his face went white and pinched, a Welsh
danger sign I heeded. Later, I hung back, unnoticed,
while Dad relayed second hand gossip about the man’s
trial to Uncle Earl. The words “molestation” and “predator”
were awkward in Dad’s mouth, and unknown to me, but I
didn’t care if the man went to jail. I broke cover to ask
“What happened to his horse?”
Janet Jenkins-Stotts’ poems have been published in Kansas Voices, Konza Journal, River City Poetry, Dash, Passager, and the Swedish underground journal, Devote. She lives in Topeka, KS. with her husband and their min-pin, Romeo.
Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. He was President of the Kansas Authors Club 2016-2017. His latest book of poetry, Stage Whispers (Meadowlark-Books, 2019), contains “…handsomely crafted poems…Dense with images, intimate and honest…” (Kathryn Kysar). His chapbook, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) comprises ekphrastic poems inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels. His first poetry collection, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014), was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016.