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Dorothy Paints Poppies from Memory

Because she is still shaking the doorknobs of this broken farmhouse the cyclone heaved from its foundation and dropped like an anvil on someone’s feet in ruby slippers. Because she still dreams she strolls through a field of poppies, poppies, poppies and breathes the opium breath of forgetfulness but always wakes in wheat. Because she can’t forget those scenes in Technicolor so she squeezes the pigment of the shoes’ red sequins onto her palette. Because she regrets the return to the sepia tones of the Kansas prairie. Because she can’t shake the Lion awake and the Scarecrow is still hellbent for Emerald City and the Tin Man is heartless. Because she wants to forget that she was the one who promised him a heart and to forget that the crows are descending on the crops back home and to forget that she has to be king of her own forest. Because the paint on a bristle brush is a Tin Man’s axe to the canvas that stretches flat and straight as a road alongside a Kansas cornfield and poppies are a siren song through the sheaves. Because she still hears monkey wings and fighting trees in the April wind and hears poppies, poppies, poppies in her brush. Because she knows how to paint the burner flames below her Omaha State Fair balloon. Because she can’t wait for a cyclone to take her.

Barbara Westwood Diehl is the founding and senior editor of The Baltimore Review. Her fiction and poetry have been published in a variety of journals, including Quiddity, Potomac Review (Best of the 50), Measure, Little Patuxent Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Gargoyle, Superstition Review, NANO Fiction, Per Contra, Thrush Poetry Journal, Atticus Review, The MacGuffin, The Shore, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Also a poem in The TELEPHONE Project.

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