Katie Moulton
Covering Michael Mlekoday
& Traci Brimhall

Self-Portrait with Catholic School Boy

after Michael Mlekoday

The fields behind Queen of All Saints
spread clammy under
far-off floodlights. We lay
down like children tagged
dead and left listening
to ground-down grassblades, still
breathing, and thirsty. Did we ever
feel alone? The boy cursed his priest
brother who busted us. We played
Question with our hands. You go. Now
you. That year I started praying
in bathroom stalls. That year
my father quivered in the passenger seat
and begged me, turn around.
That year my mother wouldn’t
let me shut my bedroom door, but said nothing
when we turned off the porchlight
and rubbed. Not to call it a rosary,
but we rubbed with devotion
to ecstatic mystery. Not to say
I believed, but that I wanted to:
When I make this shape with my palms,
I believe the air between can crush
your tender splay, that to love
means keep counting
until I have to start over. When I say
god!—it is only that if I stare hard enough,
I’m sure I see patterns in the stars.


What We Gave The Flood—

after Traci Brimhall

our little redneck Atlantis, the sweet rot
that grows wild, the school bus

on the bank, the riverfolk, their jaundiced plot.
The pop-up go-kart track seeped back

to its dirt. The dry Springdale pool,
mouth open like a mass grave, waited

for a deposit that never came. The developers
stopped returning our calls. Your long walks

lengthened. You scooped the tide up
above your ankles, wriggled your thumbs

into the mud minding its own business.
When you walked into water and sliced

your tendon on a sunken jungle gym,
I set out to find you and got caught

halfway across the low-lying bridge, the sky
suddenly swirled in the black cloud—

starlings or swifts or swallows—living beneath the trusses.
I knew you were sinking, but I had to watch

the wings. This was before the developers imploded it,
our bridge. Before the teacher told my class

it was just another tornado drill, and I linked
fingers behind my neck. Before I heard the blast—

only an echo, after all, of concrete cracking. Of the road
demolished before it could flood. This was just before,

back when everything abandoned
was loved, and vice versa.


Katie Moulton‘s recent work appears in Quarterly West, Ninth Letter, Post Road, and others. She is the 2013 winner of the Devil’s Lake Driftless Prize in Fiction. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where she edits Indiana Review and deejays for community radio. She spins a lot of covers.