Three Girls on a Dirt Road in August

by Dorothy Cantwell

Each time pebbled as we pass the porch
The paintweary ugly eaves pant in the scorch of sun
From shadows he rises bleary and feeble the old man
Tear tangled and throat scalded he still sings to her all day long
Though no eyes can see her but his
Dented gravelbucket near his stringy calf
He fingering the harsh sharpstones and weighting in his hands
Itching to fling them at us percussive like bullets around our feet
Hopdanceshrieks our arms and legssting
Needles shock our softness

Appalled our innocence
And thrilled oh the skeletal specter of male
impotence and rage so livid at the look of us
at the commotion of our voices chatterbirds
to rouse him to the imagined smell of our morning skin
our bare brown backcurves in the noon sun
Return we do again awaiting his
stoneshower of fury and again lured and ensnared
by the local his lost love legends Some Say
she died sweet and good Some say by his own vengeful hand
Some say a brokenhearted young man never able to love
another Some say cruel controlling monster who
with violence claimed her for eternity Some say
his daughter loved a young man and left him bereft
Some say she fled because of dark secret wounds he inflicted
such questions oh the horror of his dark heart
the passion the drama drives
our hushed dreams each night
and laughing furtive full of fear and desire each day
we linger in front of his home its watching windows
like the vulturine eyes of a predator
black and silent but for the faint strangle of song within
until he emerges with
his naked and beautiful ferocity

Loud baffled boys pass with impunity and laugh at our shuddering delight
Shivers beneath our skin warn of danger,
but we know not what to do but to run into its arms
like horses to a burning barn.