JESSE by M. Callen
Jesse making crow calls, balanced atop a tent spike. Jesse lying on the roof of the chicken coop, his arm hanging through the skylight. Their small beaks pecking at his lightning-shaped scars until those scars looked like anyone else's.

Jesse folded into wooden trunks. Jesse dragging barrels of sawdust across the lot, balancing an anchor pole in the palm of his left hand. Jesse strapping himself to the flatbed and riding like that. All the way to Des Moines. Picking the guts of flies from his hair. The glitter and the sand and the sweat all mixed in there.

The hands of the tightrope walker, which were not as small as he thought they should be. Taking her to monkey swing from the water tower, both of them leveled by the rusting steel ladder. Jesse and a wooden crate against her back. The field that she would think of when he said America. A postscript that read This world is not rigged for flight.

Jesse drawing the yellow curtain in the Airstream, a woman who might have looked like me lying on the couch watching Letterman. Every week or two, Jesse disappearing. Jesse in the photographs of strangers, next to the fire-eater, next to the man with three heads. Holding a red kerchief over the cardboard box that was still empty beneath it.


M. Callen lives in Pittsburgh.
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