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Hardwood Nights

Her first love stands in the doorway, a lanky licorice stick of a boy, all words and high tops, sweet and chewy, palms touching the door frame. Insomnia carries him to her, a sleepless offering for bare feet pacing a hardwood floor. If she lingers too long in this doorway, she fears she may vanish like rub my thigh and make a wish.

While awake in the dark, memory performs, so she says no to the orange pill her Magus doctor of a husband promises abracadabra delivers sleep. She prefers to feel the hardened sweet pea of memory beneath her mattress. She prefers to wander the hardwood night draped in gauze with a kernel trapped in her back teeth, wedged too deep to extract. Wedged in that tight spot between crags where spaghetti-strapped nymphs exposing crescent breast moons catch their salty breath. When she yawns, so do these girls, her students in the daylight hours, greedy fledglings in the nest, beaks open, begging.

Dropping the orange pill into the toilet, she sees her reflection in the torrent of the flush. Some nights she considers waking the Magus doctor husband. But instead she follows the licorice path to the backyard flower beds and lies down eyes closed, barking back at the neighborhood dogs, barking so quietly that she cannot hear the rainfall. Abracadabra, she opens her eyes to the Magus standing over her opening his umbrella.

Margaret MacInnis lives and writes in Iowa City. Her recent work appears in Brevity, Diagram, Fifty-Word Stories, Ghost Parachute, The Rye Whiskey Review, Tiny Molecules, and Thrush Poetry Journal. Earlier work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast Review, Mid-American Review, River Teeth, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes and received notable distinction in Best American Essays and Best American Non-Required Reading. Since 2010, MacInnis has worked as assistant to Marilynne Robinson.

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