Sunday, June 10, 2012


Her Welch's jelly jar of pond water surrounds tadpoles scooped from the Madison arboretum's spring plenty. Tiny commas, each glimmers with possibility beneath the pierced aluminum lid. It is 1960. TV commercials show astronauts flying from the earth, sweating glasses of Tang grasped in their male hands, while on Saturday, Johnny Quest saves the world as small cartoon companions mix multi-flavored Fizzies and eat Cracker Jacks during commercial breaks. She wants her own Johnny Quest adventures, but knows they're not for girls.

Monday, bigger brothers in school, she becomes The Lone Ranger in a skort. The concrete of the backyard stoop seems a good spot to place her cache of tadpoles when the Russian Olive tree beckons from the corner of the yard, its branches low enough for a four-year-old's grasp. Lilac flowers perfume the breeze, and violets dot the grass as she climbs. Hand-holds become more and more stick-like. Below, the tadpoles swim round and round, patient in their transformation.

Each new branch dances under her toes. Finally, the wind whisks her hair at the top of the earth.

China, she knows, is only a short glance over her shoulder. She imagines Tonto waiting for her below, amusing himself by plunging face first down the sliding board, war-whoops trailing behind like a red satin sash.

The faint whoosh-wump of the Amana drums faintly through the screen as mother, skirted and Peter-pan collared, irons father's pinpoints; an unfiltered Pall-Mall, its damp end kissed by Avon's pretty in pink, smokes from the ashtray on the dryer. Queen for a Day keeps mom company in black and white from the RCA console as she busies herself polishing Dad's wingtips. Outside, the girl becomes Flash Gordon pursued by Ming the Merciless as her tadpoles swim round and round, growing green skin.

Mother's face lights in the glass for a moment; the screen door shrieks open, scrapes the jar over concrete, and tips it off the edge of the world. Heels divot the damp grass as she lurches forward, arms upstretched just as her girl's shimmering shape takes flight. The tadpoles, past recall, join sharp shards of glass, their prospects as broken as bones set in casts.

JP Reese

JP Reese has poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and writer interviews published or forthcoming in many online and print journals such asMetazen, Blue Fifth Review, A Baker's Dozen: Thirteen Extraordinary Things, and The Pinch. Reese is a poetry editor for THIS Literary Magazine,, and Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, She has been a guest fiction editor forscissors & spackle. Reese's poetry chapbook, Final Notes was published by Naked Mannekin Press in 2012. Reese's flash fiction has won the Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize and her poetry The University of Memphis Graduate School Creative Writing Award. Her published work can be read at Entropy: A Measure of Uncertainty,

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