Dream Home

If my heart were lassoed by some beautiful woman whose pockets were lined with immense wealth, and she tried to drag it back to the wealthy suburb of Illinois where she was born and raised, I would grimace, resist, plead that my heart only beats in the city, defibrillated each morning in the vibrations of the train tracks and awakened each spring by the smell of piss thawing through the snow. But my love will whisper sweet birdsong into my ear, and I will wear down.

I will insist we build our home prairie-style—at one with that thing called nature and not above it. Of course, I am the centre of her world, and so she will acquiesce and call on the best architects and landscapers. Our home will blend into the grasses that surround it, the ones that grow taller than us in summer, we the camouflaged hunters. We will fill our yard with more grasses—bluestem, switchgrass, dropseed, turkeyfoot.

In a few springs, trillium will dot the ground and apple blossoms will rain down like a late season snow, coating our modest water fountain in petals that would melt on our tongues. We will plant Virginia bluebells around the perimeter of the property, unable to withstand their beauty and their small, sharp swords.

We will build neighbouring houses for the swallows and the bluebirds. They will call on each other from time to time. The jays will visit. The road far in front of our house will fill with Porsches and Alfa Romeos on the weekdays, and vintage convertibles with bench seats on the weekends, but I won’t hear them where we are. Nothing will touch me where we are. The wood in our fireplace will burn sweeter than cotton candy and faster than a ghost.

Sleepless without the sounds of argument and acceleration, I will tidy, put away my dreams, fold empty canvas into the recycling, wash paints down the drain, lock empty cupboards just in case, just in case. We will plant vegetables in our garden that will grow with time, water, excrement. In the summer I will catch the rabbit that is eating my lettuce, skin it, drain it, cure it for the winter.

My lover will not go with me into the prairie at night. I will go alone with my lantern. The grasses will shiver their praise for my bravery as I walk past, and whisper secrets into the wind behind me. I will grip my grandfather’s knife in my pocket until I understand that my fears are naked, skinless, impenetrable by blade.

On my way back, something will attach itself to my skin, I swear. When I get back, no matter how long I shower, it will not come off. In a soft bed, high off the ground, I will finally find sleep in the dull moan of aeroplanes, owls, the fox’s shriek. I will whisper further protest, years too late.

In our sixth summer, I will expel the house wrens from my garden for their incessant gossip in a language I can’t own. My phone won’t recognise my face. I will leave dishes in the sink with the tap running. When a fox calls to me I will answer. I will stand on my back porch and open my mouth wide. The wooden poles that ring the property shoulder-to-shoulder will be tall and spiked and locked except to me. Bur oaks, honey locusts, and hickories will stand guard at all sides. One day, when my lover returns from her work in the city, stands at the perimeter, calls to me to open the gate, I will say, ‘No, my love, this is not for you.’

Casey Carsel (they/them) is a writer and artist. Their works have been published by DocumentarianTipton Poetry Review, Hamster, and West Space, amongst other publications and platforms. See more at caseycarsel.com and follow them on Instagram (@carsellular).