She is regarded in certain circles as a slacker. She knows this and doesn’t care. She wears the colors she loves; does whatever she wishes. She can be seen strumming strange instruments sitting sometimes on her porch and sometimes on her roof. On spring days, she paints her house crimson and the doors puce, a door that colors perceptions. Some call the door purplish-brown, others insist it is green.

At night candles burn in windows fogged with crystals and smoke. Cats wander in and out of her yard yowling at night, fed by day. Dogs slink among the foundation plantings. No one knows whether she has people, as they say. Gardens will appear every year at the appropriate season, but she is never seen to plant, never seen to harvest. She is always alone.

She inspires disquiet among some circles. Steps must be taken.

6 Comments

  1. Alina Stefanescu

    I’m so glad someone took up the slacker prompt!!! It’s one of my favorites! 🙂

    “She wears the colors she loves; does whatever she wishes. She can be seen strumming strange instruments sitting sometimes on her porch and sometimes on her roof.” Oh wow–perfect. No comment. Just perfect alliteration and motion here. I love this SO MUCH!

    “Some call the door purplish-brown, others insist it is green.” YES.

    “At night candles burn in windows fogged with crystals and smoke. Cats wander in and out of her yard yowling at night, fed by day. Dogs slink among the foundation plantings.”
    YES!!! The dogs slink here–and I don’t associate dogs with slinking so this is a perfect and supple shift that characterizes the place more than the dogs. Brilliant.

    “No one knows whether she has people, as they say. Gardens will appear every year at the appropriate season, but she is never seen to plant, never seen to harvest. She is always alone.” I love her, Martha. I love her so.

    “She inspires disquiet among some circles. Steps must be taken.” BAM. Perfect last two lines. “She inspires disquiet”–oh that juxtaposition. And the last line is a damned marvel. Incredible work. I hope to read this someone in a lit mag soon!

    • Martha Jackson Kaplan

      Thank you so much, Alina, for the comment, for all of it, and if you see this again– and if you have them– any suggestions for submission? (Just being greedy here!) Sending wishes for a good Equinox, and so on and so forth. Heart.

  2. John Van Wagner

    Martha
    Oh, Martha, this is a marvelous and perfect thing, this thing!
    I second all that Alina has pointed out. Also, I know and love this woman, and she is a dear friend I would like to protect against the well-washed and the shallow. At least, I know her NOW!
    Two suggestions to try out: after “No one knows whether she has people”, cut “as they say”. We know what they’ll say!
    And, “She inspires disquiet among some circles”— try it out without “among some circles” — let her inspire, boom.
    Is all I gots to say…

    • Martha Jackson Kaplan

      Thanks, John, It didn’t come across here, but “as they say” was in italics. Would you still say cut if I told you that was a play on a classically Southern question, Who are her people– a question of worth and family connections?

      Been great “talking” to you this weekend.

  3. Jenne Hsien Patrick

    I loved the cadence in this piece, how each sentence starts with a statement then a modification that creates a strangeness, a slipperiness that feels like multiplicity vs. defining in stone what she is like. The ending -!!! That ending is perfection. It casts a shadow back on everything that is described previous, and introduces the POV of who inhabits the “circles” and is paying this careful attention to her. The title overlays the Dylan song which became a soundtrack to me – love!

  4. Lisa Alletson

    Martha – I love this woman, and every nebulous, drifting, slinking, never-seen line you give us to carry her character. I’d love to read this published somewhere.

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