Enter the dust of memory that lies
against splintered walls and fences
at the Stephenson County Fair, rural Illinois,
1961. Because it wasn’t our first
time there, we knew where to go for corn,
popping fat buttered kernels
in our mouths, and beehives of cotton candy
that stuck to our cheeks all day, dirtying.
Always a manure smell, babbles of sheep
and hens, Holsteins in pens, mourning their fields.
Rides and games cost a quarter apiece,
so mostly we walked: exhibit halls,
canvas pavilions that smelled like the Army
in August heat. Enter one building
featuring a new thing: a camera set overhead
at the entrance, sending live action to a television screen
as we walked in. Look! Mom gestured,
and out of habit I flinched
so hard it hurt, as if I’d been struck
after all. What’s wrong with you?
Mom demanded, and said
it embarrassed her that everyone could see
my instant recoil. Not her raised arm
that I’d learned to duck, but the television eye
that played out our secret’s beast truth.
"Direct Feed” was a finalist for the 2018 Up North Poetry Prize.
Jayne Marek’s writings and art photos appear in One, Light, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Grub Street, Spillway, Notre Dame Review, The Cortland Review, Forage, The Lake, and elsewhere. She has provided color cover art for Silk Road, Bombay Gin, Amsterdam Quarterly’s 2018 Yearbook, and The Bend. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she won the Bill Holm Witness poetry contest and was a finalist for the Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize, the David Martinson–Meadowhawk Prize, and the Naugatuck River Review poetry contest. Her newest books are In and Out of Rough Water (2017) and The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling (2018).