Ben Kline

She Went Out The Window


My only little sister jumped
without hesitation under duress

like a good Catholic girl or
a frog out the pond lightning struck.

She went out the window of the west loft
between second hay and green corn harvests

on a Friday afternoon in mid-August
and younger brother started crying before

her ankle squeaked with a gauche twist
on a heap of dry dung. When dared

she immediately said she would,
displaying courage after he said

he shouldn’t, demonstrating
that he thought about it. In that pause

cowardice eats bravery like a viper
swallows a yard mole, whereas a cat

calculates from the center on
the tail end of instinct, always upright.

She grabbed the risk and leaped
arms wide and knees bent, a prayer

failing in slow motion as a horsefly
hungrily tried to catch her, zigzagging

in frantic ellipses around her head,
drowning our brother’s weak sobs.

I believed he enjoyed the guilt
heaped upon us after we carried her

across the field to the house, after
Mom made an ice pack and Dad

pulled the paddle from atop the cupboard.
I pleaded my whole lie halfheartedly

with purple words and proper posture
because details only multiply contradictions

increasing the probability of being caught.
Our baby brother watched from the sofa.

Mom made our sister wiggle each toe.
Dad swung the paddle at his side

listening to my brother’s choked evidence
I kept a steady blink and avoided any huff.

Auntie nuns had taught me how to bluff
when your hand has insufficient trump.

Dad turned to sister with a knowing smile.
Her casual shrug leapt boldly, another risk

earning no punishment, no willow switch
or writing two thousand I’m sorry sentences

Mom would then disdainfully shred.
Everyone left the living room upright

and narrowly judged, as if mass ended
without anyone attempting communion.

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Ben Kline lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, works at a library, and consumes too much coffee but not enough wine. His work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Typehouse Magazine, Beech Street Review, The Matador Review, Impossible Archetype, Love’s Executive Order, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and many more. .

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