He crosses a red field, a red field because the sheep are bleeding, because there are roses there. He fills his basket with rosehips. He peels apart rosehips. He enters the croft. He takes down the black pot and sets rosehips to boil. The croft smells like blood and mushrooms. He strains his thick tea. He roams the broken turf of the homefield and rights a stool with three legs. He sits. He says, I have walked a long way to no welcome. I have walked a long way, he says. But from where did he walk? He looks across the red field towards the mountains. He looks towards the glacier. He looks at the croft. He says, I walked from this croft. The wind rushes through him. He shudders. He says, wind rushes through me. He asks, what inside me stands open? He stands. The tea is too rich. It is parching. He drops the mug on the earth. The moss fills with blood. He sees that the flowers’ throats have been cut. The flower he holds is the ear of a sow. He plucked it from the homefield. In his own ear, he feels a wet stirring, the sound of water dropping on leaves. He says, I must not sleep. The rain has come. The wind fills with rain and my brother’s door was left open.
This text originally appeared in Joanna Ruocco's The Boghole & the Beldame (2016)
Joanna Ruocco is a prize-winning American author and co-editor of the fiction journal Birkensnake. In 2013, she received the Pushcart Prize for her story "If the Man Took” and is also winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Ruocco received her MFA at Brown, and a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver. Her most recent novel is Dan, published by Dorothy, a publishing project. She also serves as Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at Wake Forest University.