Excerpted from Emily Schultz's Trillium Award nominated collection, Songs for the Dancing Chicken, published by ECW Press in 2007.
In the smallest town the stillnesses fill with crickets, the highway bright with the dairy light menu gleaming above the darkened counter in case at this impossible hour you might like to taste the trickle of raspberry poured perfectly, curving down from a rich creamy nipple, down into a red and white paper boat, pink plastic spoon standing upright. And yellow lettering underneath — choclat marshmalo btrscotch hot fudg strawbery kiddie sm med lrg delux. The ground at your feet is littered with broken glass and bottle caps, laughter flicked from a chained-down picnic table to a crumbling parking block, the tall tales of cigarette butts’ mouths since gone. And every breath is an exchange you make knowingly with the thick night air that squats over you, nearly solid with its whirring of insects and stars. The spit in your mouth sours beneath the candy cherry of your own tongue. If anyone were to ask the reason for this you could only reply, Who is the sadness for? Sadness has no reasons. Sadness is a luxury of spare time, a piece of pie leftover, the blueberry’s skin caught between your teeth, the black blear of happiness. No one knows you here, still you wish you could throw your head back and burst into an instant jingle, black out the light behind the glass with a stone, pry up the foil ridge of the sky and suck all the sweetness out.