Steve Passey ~ Three Prose Poems

Mormon Girl

She told me that her father had rent­ed dry­land on the reser­va­tion and in the first year he made more mon­ey off of the crop than he ever had before but the next four years the drought came and was bad, each year worse than the one that pre­ced­ed it, and this was the ear­ly eight­ies and inter­est rates were in the twen­ties and that one night he got up and walked out of the house with­out a word at nine o’clock and drove across the riv­er to the reser­va­tion and her moth­er stayed up rock­ing and cry­ing, rock­ing and cry­ing, because she thought he was going to com­mit sui­cide but he came home at two in the morn­ing and went to bed with­out speak­ing to either of them and her moth­er told her only to not ever tell her sis­ters about this and she nev­er did.


Diptych (#1)


There are January morn­ings when the ice on the trough freezes over in spite of the elec­tric heater and the hors­es, shag­gy with their win­ter coats, wait side-by-side to drink once I break the ice with the same old hatch­et I use to cut the twine on the hay bales. I feed them, and in the fog of their breath I am too cold to stay out here but it feels wrong to leave.


I can draw a pic­ture of high sum­mer and a fif­teen-year-old girl on her father’s big horse, 18 hands high, tak­ing the bulls out to pas­ture. The bulls snort and low­er their heads but the horse is unafraid, even if the girl is a lit­tle afraid, and then the bulls are pas­tured. For two hours the girl sleeps in the sad­dle with the reins loose in her hands while the ani­mals graze their fill and the heat keeps the big, bit­ing flies down and sends the lit­tle brown hum­ming­birds into the cara­gana and the shade.


The Prophet of Regret (#11)

All of the Women I’ve Ever loved Are Dying and it’s Too Late to Make Amends

I used to love I used to love I used to love, she said, red meat and red wine and a man too, a man I loved; a man unable to sep­a­rate his want and need, for me. Now I can­not eat meat at all. I can­not drink wine at all.  I roll my eyes at my own body.

I appre­ci­at­ed her telling me this. It is a con­fi­dence that she shared, speak­ing of her frailty hon­est­ly and unafraid, even with the shad­ow of death in the room. A con­fi­dence is dif­fer­ent than a secret. A con­fi­dence is a sacred thing, made in trust. A secret is mun­dane and sus­pi­cious by nature.

All of the women I’ve ever loved are dying, it’s true. Somewhere, some­how, we all got old. There are no prophe­cies any more, and no prophets, just the prophet of regret, and reme­dies with­out cure.

This is the order of things: We rise. We dimin­ish. We seek the sun­rise on the high places one last time, then we are gone.


Steve Passey is orig­i­nal­ly from Southern Alberta. He is the author of the short-sto­ry col­lec­tions Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock (Tortoise Books, 2017), Cemetery Blackbirds (Secret History Books, 2021), the novel­la Starseed (Seventh Terrace), and many oth­er indi­vid­ual things. He is a Pushcart and Best of the Net Nominee and is part of the Editorial Collective at The Black Dog Review.