Jack and Jill

©1986, 2003 Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Walk Me to the War and Phoenix Envy

I wrote this first verse in Mrs. Pond's senior English class at Glenbard West High School in 1975. She was a terrific teacher. A light blue room with windows opening into trees. The supernatural aspect of the song - the attempted seduction by a trespassing form in nature - is based on a vision my father had. It was Kali, attempting to seduce him by impersonating my mother, but her muscles didn't look quite right, and he took a stick and hit her; as she fell into the pit, he saw that her hips were ringed with snakes. There was much more to the vision, but that is the part I was struck by, so to speak, and used in the song. This is about two people who wouldn't have made it without each other. 

It took me ten years to get a performable version - I've rewritten this 25 or 30 times; this is the current version. 

Time stood still, when Jack took ill  
Big flies died on the windowsill  
Across the pond, the wind blew chill  
And Jill ate candy in the kitchen  
Curtains rustled over chocolate lead  
Cool wind blew dust over Jack's forehead  
Oak claws scraped the house and a blackbird fled  
From the bright, cold touch of the morning  

Jill heard the bed creak through the ceiling as she walked in her socks  
Across the floor to the door of the old icebox  
And she tried to assemble the afternoon's blocks  
And looked at the light on the meadow  
Near the roof, Jack rolled over to escape the heat  
And wrapped his blanket tight around cold feet  
The kitchen floor gave out a creak  
As he stared at the light in the window  

Jill walked outside with her hate in her hands
Past the marigolds and the garbage cans
She was out past the garden when the screendoor slammed  
Gathering strength from the ground  
Jack, as dazed as the day he was born  
Saw light melt in the hills like butter on corn  
He didn't know what it meant when he heard the screendoor  
But he fell into sleep at the sound  

Down through the pasture and into the trees  
Jill plunged through thorns that clutched her knees  
To a pathway covered in fog and leaves  
Where the yew berries fade into shadow  
And the wood grew strange, though she knew every place  
Every nook where the busy spiders chase  
No friend nor foe would show a face  
On either hill or hollow  

Jill took a stick to guide her when night began to stir  
And she felt the horizon close in with a blur  
A blackbird flapped, and it startled her  
To think of a life in the air  
Then it's up and hill and down a hill  
She came upon a new-sunk well  
One owl flew, while the world went still  
Jill stood like iron, and brushed away her hair  

A marvelous man rose in the pit  
Like one made perfect, bit by bit  
His mouth drew open, a trembling slit  
As he looked her body over  
And he spoke to her, he rattled her name  
And he gnawed at the sight in her eyes as he came  
She the puppet, he the flame,  
"and so you're mine, sweet lover."  

She cried, "you lie," but he took her by the shins  
And she cried, "God help me," but he pulled her farther in  
Then she swung her stick, and struck the thing  
But she froze still in its hold  
"Hoo, hoo," at the window—'twas the owl's croon  
Jack saw Jill frozen there like stone  
His blood swam warm, as he rolled to face the moon  
And she felt him claim her from the cold  

Jill climbed out of nowhere into simple night  
Ivory skin shriveled up and tumbled out of sight  
She stood with her stick in the new moonlight  
On dirt in the heart of a clearing  
Jack dreams of one he'll love forever  
Running through the pines, a constant river  
With a worn out mind, and a broken fever  
Wrung like a dishrag, sleeping  

Jill staggered upstairs and lay down in bed  
With scars on her arms and peace in her head  
Drifting into sleep when a thin voice said,  
"Where have you been all night?"  
In dawning light, where Jack woke up  
Frightened stiff as a toad in a cup  
Jill looked to the stars, though her eyes were shut  
She said, "It's all right, love, it's all right.  
It's all right love, it's all right."

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