Photogene #1


Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Even the power line swerves away from this house, if that line still carries electricity. I remember when the men came to raise that pole, just beyond the backyard. It had grass and cacti then. Jumping needles. The men wouldn’t come in, so mother sent me out with lemonade muddied with mint.

We had perfect vintage dresses and aprons with slightly larger polka dots. Baby pink on practical brown and just enough white to show we were clean, but the men still wouldn’t come in.

Our clothes weren’t shredded then.

When someone dies, you bury them. After the power lines came, other houses were built. And when the people died, they were driven away in large black cars. I heard their families talk: graveyard, graveyard, graveyard. And casseroles.

I don’t know what a casserole is, but I can pickle almost any vegetable or leaf. Or feet. It’s mostly been the latter of late. And dirt of the latest. Ever since the other houses went away.

They didn’t go away when the well went dry. Mother said their water came from the sea in underground passages you could crawl through. I’ve never seen the sea, but I’ve heard it tastes like the desert after rain.

Mother died of thirst, and I didn’t have to bury her because she turned to dust. I learned to suck the water out of living things, and when the yard died and the flash made the other houses and their people disappear, I learned to suck on the dead. First, the door crumbled. Then, the windows.

Soon, I’ll have nothing but the soil to drink.


About the Writer
Elizabeth Kate Switaj’s short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online, Blip Magazine, and Platte River Review. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Queen’s University Belfast, a Contributing Editor to Poets’ Quarterly, and the Assistant Managing Editor of Irish Pages: A Journal of Contemporary Writing. For more information visit
About the Artist
Amy Pajewski is a photographer and poet relocated to the Texas Panhandle from Lancaster City, PA. She has published work in In Parentheses, Curio, The White Rose Journal, and The George Street Carnival.More of her work can be found at

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