After the Night Ride

To be honest, when you gave your trollish
roar last night, I wanted to place my fingers
over yours on the ignition and remove the
keys. When you doused the house with water,
spraying the walls of our kitchen and the
floors of the bathroom, I wanted to help you
down into the puddles and offer a nudge, as if
you might want to swim away. When you
tore all the old shingles from our roof and
kept going, opening our bedroom to moon
and sky, I left you up there and started
walking, your ancient song crooning through
the boughs. From our neighborhood through
the roads and trails, I cut across farmland
where the first green knuckles pushed from
soil. I walked and walked, then I found the
entrance to Trolland, the theme park of my
girlhood. I followed the blacktop to the train
station of candy, the boat ride that swayed as
if on swells, the log ride on aqua-dyed water,
and that spinning ride which stuck everyone
to the walls. I kept going, looking for roller
coasters, the sky lift, the striped pole that rose
to the night. Everywhere, were trolls. Trolls
sat on benches in lamplight, filled the tables,
and crowded the lines. Even if I wanted to
buy astronaut ice cream, the trolls stood
dozens deep with crisscrossed arms. I got in
line anyway. Then, a troll charged at me, one
with filigree tattoos. I backed against the faux
barbershop that sold rock candy. Sing bitch,
the troll said or maybe it was, Climb. I don’t
know. I found the pole and climbed the blue
rungs to the top—I’ve wanted to do this since
I was girl. There I found the firetruck ship, its
maiden face, and a moon with doll arms
holding the reins. She said, Join me, but there
wasn’t any place to sit. I must’ve jumped,
because when I land, I’m in bed beside you
again, your hand clasping my ankle. Above
us, the night flickers orange.

— Laura Madeline Wiseman


Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks, include Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), twice nominated for the Elgin Award. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Silver Blade, and elsewhere. Her latest book is Velocipede.

tor’s Notes: The dreamy image of a girl praying in the clouds (static pexels, CC0) is enhanced by adding the moon and a surrealistic troll.