CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
The Skirmish
Kira Henehan



“… and then I died and went to France.”
Thus, the story of your life wrapped up and pensive. In terror, estate. We have laid her, in state, this at least we have done. We three Dejans have. If in spring we are found one said to be wanting, well, it is far from funny but not yet broken. Tell me Byelorussia sleeps. Dainty soldiers. You can cry your Russian cantos all night; there is nothing worse than being a girl. It makes me hot. Arrivederci, my ardor. You’ve grown so slow. We’ve sometimes pears here plums and so forth. We’ve sometimes a sorrow almost Japanese. We’ve sometimes in spring found to be wanting and so forth. She looked like a castaway, copper paled from body but dirt. Heavens! what dirt. Dear Cora with her pretty lips and we keep yet our androgyne, twisty pensive feckless guest. We three Dejans keep. One spends one’s youth a child and so forth. That little plum jobby, all mashed up in Hobby Horse’s split-lip saddle. O vexing bella doll. O semi-precious eyes adored. Freckled not feckless or both little plumbottom, tasseling tassels of tressely hair. Acorn nuthatch in I it spikes. It spikes twice. Don’t go please all Kabuki on me. Dainty fellow Dejans don’t.

“… wood, now ashes. Now wane.”
I waited in the lake for what kept not coming. They kept not coming and kept me waiting. Dainty uniformed boors, plum-drunk and rolling among the crabgrass. They kept a child, filthy scarecrow. They propped it up against trees to sleep. Oh that child slept and as it slept they poked with sticks. Around in the bag they did and kept not coming. I kept to the edges. The stones were stones. The day was gray and vice versa. We were there, all we were, for the length of the skirmish. The skirmish was long and hard and blue. It had rivers running the length of it. I kept to the edges where the grasses were. There were cattails and foxtails and horsetails and such and these I picked and whipped against the water. A child takes scolding. The eye is a door. The door is wood. It burns when wet. Crows fly from burning and the crows did fly.

“… waiting, they, the lips and the rest.”
The Consul convenes. A certain—ah—unnamed source has claimed to have witnessed—ah—we have been alerted to the taking in of local—well—how shall we. The decree implies that what is provided should be consumed. What is provided was the best of what we had. The concern—well. Local strays and such and girls. Ashen riverbank wastrels and such. What was provided waits in the lake. The provided for are obligated. The Consul fears a miscommunication. The Consul fears a dreadful hearing. The Consul requires those provided for meet the provisions in the lake, post haste. The provision is impatient and possibly drowning. The Consul fears a misunderstanding. Don’t go please all Kabuki young soldiers. Take to the lake; it will not be found wanting.

“… and the crows did fly.”
We lit out all for Isadore. We three Dejans did. The other waited in the lake. They polished her hair. They dreaded the cantos and the coming-on of night, dreaded lit in fire and feasting. Inevitable celebration dread, they. And stood armed. I fed you mustard straight from the stalk. We three Dejans fed, and stuffed what was left with straw. You slept and we crossed you in reverent penitence. Bella doll and child hair, a terrible curl. And when she was bad … We nursed the old rhymes surrounding her rest and the rest formed perimeters, as per the training. One was knighted, one was crossed, one was pardoned and you our amour tossed yourself in sleep towards whichever your fickle dream ordained. Our adore. And tressed of twigs. You slept through three long skirmishes and my nights following could never not be. Plums rotting the roots out from under the tree. Sweet Jesus! the plums, thick pulp in the underbrush. You were one who once (not without grandeur) rubbed pearls from otherwise uninhabited shells. You winsome seed, androgyne, a sleep adored, an open door, an answered invitation, ash.

“… those lingering eyes and the rest.”
And so, yes, henceforth, yes. On the matter of dear poor dim-witted Cora. Dry-titted, yes, provision. The boys in the horsegrass go down Havana, bring slow fall of objects, unprovoked. In the burning wood all Isadore and eyes, wet in the burning wood, yes. There was. One went nuthatch, asylumed in the aftermath. And the Turks sing out Thanksgiving! Read if you must the body of lust-letters, penned, yes, of our dainty soldiers. Eyes like wood her hair like water. A vice aversion. Tasseling about among the plums. She was once a one who (not without grandeur). She was. Hey—you looked born to me, they cried and died. And she kept pretending to be a we, and now like ashes and now like rain. While poor, yes, Cora waited, waist-deep in lake water, a one who doesn’t entice when wet. Forgive us. Sickly sweet and drunk on pears, drink to bees and fed to bears. Isadore. Narcolept vixen, awake on the inside. Hair like wood, now ashes. Now wane.

“Dainty fellow Dejans, don’t.”
The Consul convenes. The countries are calling—ah—forth their dead. All provisions will be made. To collect the—ah—heroic fallen. The tags should be kept. The countries are calling for tags and bones. The countries are sending here boxes post haste. The countries are pine and oak and ash. There will be sorting according to tags. We will sing out Thanksgiving! and asylum appropriately. The Consul suggests a dread celebration—ah—a celebration suffered sans dread if you will. Unprovoked penitents. What exasperates—ah—exacerbates the—well—we trust in our trusted heroic unfallen. Please remain all identifying qualities about—ah, retain—them, and for the love of—the Consul decrees—sweet Jesus!—extinguish those lingering eyes and the rest.

“… invitation, ash.”
The sounds they found in sleep. Was a door. Was a crack in our child amour where they died. Isadore, the eyes, our sullen stray doll. The eyes a door in you to pass. They passed out things and hats and boots. They lay quite still like stones. They fed on plums and pears and so forth. In spring they sometimes wanted. For Cora, no, her hoar-frost forehead, her dry hang of hair. In burning the sound like a once mother cried. There are ways worse than this of being a girl. Isadore Isadore my child! my boy! Plum-bitten lips havened up in the lake, kept waiting, they, the lips and the rest.

“… it will not be found wanting.”
I was one. A one who once (not without grandeur) did once tell a war. They all tell their tales. The three Dejans did then they didn’t. A sorrow of tales, a theater where all the parts are played by boys. We never believe it. I burned up the crows. I paled away to girl and then. In the theater our parts are paved by boys. When all your brothers up and away, there is nothing for it but to stay and get small. The countries called for their dead. They specified pine or oak or ash. An open door, an answered invitation: I chose my country based on wood. And then they cried: you looked born to me! And then I died and went to France.