Lynn Mundell’s work has appeared most recently in Hobart, Thrice Fiction, Vestal Review, Five Points, Flash Frontier, and Right Hand Pointing. Look for more of her work this year in Portland Review, Gone Lawn, Blink-Ink, and Story Shack. Lynn lives in Northern California, where she co-edits 100 Word Story.

A Prose Poem

By Lynn Mundell


From the tree fort, June watched Lou below as he ducked down the alley to read something before stuffing it back into his postal bag. When he delivered Mrs. Jorgenson’s mail, a Day-Glo yellow card floated out, which she picked up, scanned, and then crammed into her recycling bin. There, Bobo the Hobo dug it out to read while he downed the dregs of a bottle. When he moved on to Hildy’s cans, he abandoned the card on the sidewalk, where Little Joy on her new bike ran over it, backed up, and then stuck it into her wheel spokes. It then spun merrily until it fell out in front of Art’s Café just as Mr. Ng, the seventh-grade science teacher, appeared. He stooped for it, glanced it over, and went back inside, where a few minutes later June’s older sister Beth came out, card in hand, to set off at a steady clip. Beth passed Mrs. Jorgenson and Bobo, who pointedly ignored her before meeting to talk over the trashcans. They were joined by Edgar the fitness fanatic and Chris, the simple girl who bagged at the mini mart. Everyone talked at once, looked after Beth, talked, looked, talked.

This high up in the fort, the hot wind fingered June’s hair and blouse, and the spotted leaves. She cracked open a walnut and found a tiny yellow worm inside, then opened a second and saw the same. The old tree shook and groaned as someone heavily climbed the wooden rungs. June felt a sharp bite of fear, and then remembered. Beth’s head popped up at the bottom of the platform, followed by her swollen stomach.

“Jay’s coming home. He says he’s sorry about what happened but that we should be a family.”

Beth held up the postcard decorated with a big smiley face, now bent and dirty, before slowly tearing it up into tiny pieces that she tossed up like confetti at a hero’s parade.

From below, no one could see them, their big bellies, the tree’s sickness, but still the leaves couldn’t stop whispering.