My Own History of PlaguesMiriam Bird Greenberg
The year of drought was followed by the year of locusts, the year of grass fires, the year when daffodils threaded with cyanide seeds got all the goats. Then it was the seventeen-year cicadas. Next the two moons in the sky looking askance with their white eyes like a rabbit shucked of its skin in one fluid motion. The year of my flea-bait boyfriend with his flock of coonhounds. The year my father took a long swig from a can of Sterno and didn't make it back up the basement steps. The year Jennie got lockjaw turned stiff and gray as an old board. Cats got the kitchen mice, but a possum got the cats and some chickens too, and Bill shot the possum but didn't count on the kick, broke his collarbone like a hacksaw gone toothless. At the end of twelve days ants had got the possum, and maggots and fifteen kinds of fly, and we all sat on the porch where the boards hadn't rotted through drinking gin out of old jam jars as the sun sank behind grain elevators. Then grandma excused herself, and Lolly who'd been the hired hand for about a hundred years left after her, and when I got up for the kitchen I saw from the corner of my eye him brushing hair out of her face, and she had her hand on his waist, and I knew both would be gone by next year and the well caved in besides.
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