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After the Cyclone
by Davon Loeb

Dorothy saw, only gray—all around her, a blanket of gray, like a moon flatted, ironed, and stretched its endless arms in a colorless exhaustion. Someone said there used to be trees reaching high and together, but the old-bodied dissatisfied things retreated and ran from out of their roots, and provided that the world with its skies, its rock, and its people are connected, brought the houses with boxy shadows behind them. Oh this vacancy, an ebbing directionless absence, that bleakness that earthed and rose to atmospheric heights, that made the sweeping black birds blacker and heaving clouds cloudier. But even through that billowy blankness, pieces of thinned sliced sun in streaks of urinated yellow drained from that rare opening in the sky. And the sun touched down to whatever pastoral brokenness that was left, and cracked a blister-brown, and split each sprout in two. And if the grass had ever been green, a seasonal exactness that’s supposed to be predictable because the world is expecting grass often enough, these blades were blunt, and stood squalidly wherever they drew. There could have been a house; or it could have been just a dreamy fog after rain paints the life out of everything else; still it might have been a house—a dull ghost too empty to move. And there she stood, in a brief glimmer of sun, staring owlishly at this indifferent chaos. Craning her neck, as if looking for something—maybe a familiar face to latch a smile to, but there was no one, not even a street sign—just a squinted misunderstanding, like it was all some blurry-eyed dream. But she did remember, before this bleakness, hearing someone say that we take on dreams—like a projection, like a contagious illness, like this town taking on her loss, this some kind of death; this whole damned town with its roads dried like bloodless arteries; its mailboxes cocked corn stalks, its lattice fences turned and warped, its everything—just a godless forgotten silence—a silence like the death of all things. And yet still, there she was; a sort of April cruelty, like a Spring darkness, a real something to cry hard about.

Davon Loeb is an MFA graduate of Rutgers University. His work has been featured in Harpoon Review, Connotation Press, Portland Review, Duende Literary Journal, Nomans Journal, Parable Press, MenoPause Press, PaleHouse, Midwest Literary Magazine, Penny Ante Feud, and Heavy Hands Ink, among others. Davon lives in New Jersey, and is an English teacher.