KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Prose Poem: 296 words


by Kathryn Kulpa
I eat the bread of grief
My lips are cracked and dry
I fold my dreams in squares of silk
A bird that cannot fly.

It is a town for widows. We are a land of widows, now. The President murdered; his wife beside him, unable to stanch the flow of the great man’s blood. How can I complain?

Jacob’s flowers, now pressed in dusty books. The last he gave me, an amaryllis. It was his Christmas leave. Its petals, so bright then in our world of snow, now muddied like dried blood. It lies between the red leather covers of our Bible.

A book I should read aloud daily, says Reverend Sweet. For comfort, to resign myself to the Lord’s ways.

But I know more than I wish to know of the Lord’s ways. I find no comfort there.

I think of him in Andersonville, in fever from his wound. The lice, the dysentery. Meat white with maggots, bread black with mold.

It is a town for widows. My grief is not the only grief. My widow’s weeds not the only black crepe. We walk the dusty sidewalks like a murder of crows, watching for shiny bits of something new to distract us from sorrow. Gossip, scandal. A red ribbon to be plucked from the ground, embroidered into our empty nests.

I wear my stays higher, my hoops wide, though the fashion now is for the narrow crinolette. Do they watch my waistline with measuring eyes? Do they count the months since Jacob’s last leave?

It is a town for widows. A town of beds left cold.

My spine is straight, my head still high. I gaze through my veil with dry eyes. Reverend Sweet looks away. Does he find comfort in his book?

Kathryn Kulpa
Issue 4, Fall 2015

is the author of Pleasant Drugs, a short story collection, and Who’s the Skirt?, a micro-fiction chapbook. She is flash fiction editor at Cleaver, and her work has been published in Smokelong Quarterly, NANO Fiction, Literary Orphans, KYSO Flash, and Litro.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Oklahoma,1944: Howard Hughes Spends the Night in Jail, 964-word flash fiction in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine (October 2014)

Mine, 812-word flash fiction in Stone’s Throw Magazine (Issue 2)

Dear Heap, 862-word flash fiction in Foundling Review (March 2010)

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