Midwestern Gothic

Midwestern Gothic

Midwestern Gothic 1920 1285 Sadie Shuck Hinkel

Pumpkin-rot twists the open sky and morphs into tornado
sirens that echo through the bleached hallways of my built-in-1928
high school. I am reading Of Mice and Men in English 9 and the air
erupts in warning right as George aims at the back of Lennie’s head.

The dog is untrained and must be hooked to the front yard cable
because it is too dangerous to let her wander     into the corn
into the highway     into the yard of the neighbor down the street
who swears to capital-G God he will kill anyone who trespasses.

There are no miracles here. Instead, a tractor harvests a gas line
and ignites the man behind the wheel. I stand on the old roof tiles
of my best friend’s house and inhale the smoke of the crops.
I imagine a charred skeleton driving the John Deere, bare knuckled.

Bundled up between deflated basketballs and last season’s supply
of Miracle-Gro, there is a snow plow in the garage, but my brothers
still scoop the black cold of the driveway by hand. After, they
sit and drink hot-chocolate that thaws their skin from the inside out.

We giggle into the only gas station in town and eat maple donuts
while the old men look at us with steamed smiles behind their coffee
cups. Ice crystallizes on the neon-lighted window and I ask myself—
if the world stops existing would we even know about it?

Header photograph © Anne Wheeler.

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