Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 19

Kelly Kiehl | 19

& it's 0400 in the early morning of January 31, and the radios have been clogged for about two hours. Men are wiring in attacks from everywhere, and we're all trying to figure out what's going on, but nobody tells Marines anything, and Marines don't ask. I hear radios coming in from all throughout the country: Saigon and Hue, even our base at Khe Sanh

& we cannot stay put for any longer because we know what will happen if we stay. We see it in our own mothers who wilt like flower petals with each day and each night that their sons are still gone. So we stay locked away in our treehouse, because we have nowhere else to be, nowhere else to go. There, we're above the town, reaching out for something else but still firmly chained in the soil of our homes. We sleep there and dream there: lose ourselves and find ourselves again. But each day we stay in that treehouse, we wear away as we watch owls swoop through tree branches, field-mice dangling from their beaks, moonlight reflecting in the hollow mirrors of their wide-eyed freedom. The rumble of passing trains taunts us, leaves an empty vibration in our fingertips even after they have gone. The wild screeches of owls cover us in a longing like overgrown ivy

& I think that if I lie here and close my eyes, none of it could be real. It could be a radio program. It could just be a dream, a bad dream,

& in the treehouse that day, Julie, Rachel, and I rub our backs against the rough wooden walls, scratching our shoulder blades that have not stopped itching since the summer we became witches. It is this afternoon that Rachel first tells us that we need to see something, that there's something there. In the biting January air, Rachel takes off her coat and then pulls her sweater over her head, leaving her mittens and hat on. She turns so that her back is to us, and in the fading winter sunlight we see that on either