When I Fell From the Sky

Photo: © Nadia Belalia. All Rights Reserved.

We’d rung Doc Smith’s doorbell
again and again. We’d laughed and we’d run,
my brothers and I—ring and run,
ring and run. The last time

we rang him, Doc hurtled to the curb,
and with his hairy hooked paw—
(my brothers ran fast, faster than fast),
Doc hefted me skyward. I don’t know

what happened when I fell from the sky—
he caught me, I’m sure. When I woke,
I lay flat-backed, dirt-faced
and panting. What I saw

in the sky, I did not tell then.
I saw Earth pay for my sin,
saw God suck His cheeks in, slurp up
junipers and spruces, blue-green

and green. I saw blackbirds fly
southeast, waxed in a golden-spit gleam.
I saw God huff red clover, May apple,
black oily seeds, canebrake and chamomile,

skullcap and weed. When I woke, grit
paralyzed my windpipe. I saw color
like Chiclets staining Doc’s teeth.
He hovered, a whorl of dark hair

grizzling his wrist bone. He palmed
my gut and fingered my ribs, then slid
to the swollen pink rosebud of nipple
blooming there. What I saw then

in the sky, I did not tell.

Shelly Stewart Cato holds a 2020 MFA in poetry from Sewanee School of Letters. She is a 2020 Rattle Poetry Prize finalist and winner of the 2021 Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for Poetry. Work is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Washington Square Review, Ponder Review, and New Ohio Review. She lived in the Mississippi Delta for 25 years and now writes near the Warrior River in Walker County, Alabama. She is passionate about genre bending and short forms, blurring lines between truth and imagination. She is passionate about loving humans in this space in this now.

Appears In

Issue 13

Browse Issues