How Some Children Played at Slaughtering

Jennifer Schomburg Kanke
| poetry


She thinks it’s funny the boys down the road call her a crow when it’s a term better suited to her husband with his horde of shiny things: his money, his trophies, his bullets. The only shiny things she ever collected were the tears of her sons in a mason jar until their gathering crowded the kitchen windowsill and caught the first light of every morning. Red lids for Colin, blue for Ryan, and grass green for Marcus. They left their tears here with her, safekeeping in their tight seals. The jars would show her things, memories and moments, predictions and prophecies. Colin dressing his brothers as ninjas so they’d have an excuse to beat up on each other. Ryan rolling down the hill on Sundays before church until she started getting him up later and later. She’d rather him be rushed than have time to find mischief. And Marcus as an old man, small fingers wrapped round a brush painting dark landscapes on reused canvases. When Colin died in a car crash, she spilled his on the hill out back, refilled the jar with her own. When Ryan died in a helicopter crash over Afghanistan, she didn’t know what to do, so she poured them over the borage, hoping it could withstand the salt. She had nothing to refill it with, having used all her tears on Colin. She smashed the jar on the bricks of the fireplace, invited the birds to come in and pick through the ashes. Marcus’s jar is the only one left. She’s quilted a casing for it, thick batting and all. The light can’t shine through it. It sweats inside its nest on hot days. No one can get to this jar, no one.

Jennifer Schomburg Kanke lives in Tallahassee, FL. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, Fugue, and Pleiades. Her chapbook, Fine, Considering, is available from Rinky Dink Press. She serves on the Board of Directors at Anhinga Press.

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