Three Women

Three Women

Three Women 1920 1280 Margaret Roncone


She remembers hearing “head for the hills”, maybe an old Western maybe her father’s idea of escape from a bad marriage. When the last of winter’s snow turned as drab gray as a business suit and the returning swallow built nests in the old widow’s steepled roof, she packed her rucksack with goat cheese wrapped in parchment, a sewing kit, an old photo of Doris Day. She headed, well, you know where. Wild dogs met her in the foothills. Took her three moon cycles to get her voice tuned to the pack.


Laces her shoes with old rawhide, pulls thin arms through her grandfather’s worn pea coat. Screen door covered with moth wings slams behind as she sneezes seven times, makes a wish. Checks the hen house for fox tracks, punctured eggs. The lunar cycle marks the tempo of her slow heaven. Every Thursday 3 a.m. walks the shore of the pond, insomnia gripping like teeth of a mad dog. Water hyacinth brush her bare legs. She remembers the cat lost last Spring, how with her nearby, she never felt lonely. Marcy speaks Creole, the hills answer with snow, a tree falling in the night, sound of ribs cracking.


Knows black goes well with lace, wishes her legs were as long as Rita Hayworth’s. Her women friends think she’s shallow, but Evangeline knows the importance of identity. She has dreams of being a trapeze artist, dyeing her hair blonde with pale green stripes. Every morning she fine combs her lashes until they look like apostrophes. Gives her hair 100 strokes with a boar bristle brush, walks to church wearing wet boots. “Penance” she mutters four times, crosses herself with pond water. She’s content sleeping alone, rubs olive oil along each limb, silk sheets beneath her, head still to prevent wrinkles. Remembers the sound of her mother’s old mangle, re-checks the burn scar on her forearm. In the morning, Evangeline brews coffee for one, feigns interest in the New York Times, swallows two diet pills with her O.J.  Her neighbor’s old pick-up, tires marked with saltwater have her thinking about leaving.

Header photograph © Jerry Mathes II.

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