The meadow considers the velvety slick on her skin, sips at the edges, trickles it into her pores, only a taste this time, she swears, until she falls in love again with her own wet heft. The meadow umbers herself with the crimson pool, plumps herself against the dead, besotted, skin to skin, until she hates herself again. Eve shrieked and the meadow has hated herself ever since, has drawn the stain down deep inside, sworn never to drink again. She tries to make do with the blood of calving, of roadkill, of fallen chicks. But the meadow still thinks of the hiss of knife through skin, that lavish spill, that crimson burst of Abel. The meadow hums her thirst and hates herself, thinks dynasty and hates herself, thinks empire, infidel, and motherland and hates herself because she knows. She hums her thirst and mumbles tyranny, sings birthright and hates herself, trills liberty and homeland and hates herself. Glory she croons, Halleleujah she cries, and hates herself because she can almost taste it. The meadow calls out birthright and sings out shall not be infringed and hates herself and sings and sings until she feels the velvety slickness on her skin. She trickles it into her pores, just one last time, she swears.
Tara Campbell is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, b(OINK), Booth, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Strange Horizons, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, and her collection, Circe’s Bicycle, was released spring 2018.
The image is “Meadow with Poppies” by Pál Szinyei Merse.