The Summer Country

by Ellen Goldstein

At the Chatham County fair, I see a lean black man and a white man with a missing finger sitting on either end of a bench drinking wine from goblets. Like a fortuneteller’s game, a whorl of broken glass and stone is laid out between them. Pick one, they tell me, slanting a smile, and your wish will come true.

Sitting on your porch late, watching fireflies weave light though the pines, you tell me “I used to catch bees like fireflies, following their flight path, my hands held out. The trick is how gently you move.” You stare at me across the small circles of lights the candles have strewn between us. The moon rises higher.

You and I climb to Occoneechee Mountain Overlook, where five tons of rock slipped into the river one night. A sign blocks the edge. “Danger, Unstable Rock!” You jump up and down just to be sure. As we turn to leave we see a young man leading a blindfolded woman up the trail behind us, with one arm tight around her shoulder and the other holding her hand. A proposal or an execution. We slip away so there will be no witnesses.

Ellen Goldstein was born and raised in Central Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Revew, Streetlight, pettycoat relaxer, The Formalist, and Mid-American Review.