You hear bout the horse?
Campbell lost him again
last night—ran clear off
to the holler,
where the creek cuts through
t’ward Mary Beth’s barn.
Ran south, saddle an all.
bet they find him
a state over
with a wreath
round his neck
an gold horseshoes.
This golden hour, I recognize the man on the alley porch from three jobs ago, wonder how long he’s lived there. His laughter bursts from his lips like sparrows fleeing trees, my lips so red a girl once asked after my gloss, I blushed, stuttered no defense, she cackled until I moved away. I wear tank tops, embrace the day’s last breeze then undress before windows, hope someone watches. My shoulders square in the frame. I scratch the scab fading beneath my chin’s stubble, trace the blotch yellowing my pec, dip to the purple bars of my ribs and the crescent fading black into pubic hair. Knees a little skinned but palms less raw. Last week’s bike wreck coated my mouth acidic iron. Above then below, bird or bat dropping fish from the sky—flattened by a sports car. That ocean smell, salt rot seeping until scales dragged through my nostrils. Didn’t see the pothole, flipped over handlebar and wheel, lifted clear, slow reflux in flight. My hands fanning on blacktop as if smoothing a sheet. Petal clatter. Bile kissed my tongue as I lay there. Breath. Late night and alone with the pothole, its bottom eggplant purple.
I pluck good leaves from cellophane,
the ceraceous leather of baby spinach
failing to slime, wetting the bag.
I try to remember farming.
Wet earth under my nails, worms not far below.
Critters guard livestock, all accustomed
to the tractor hum. Sheep wait to be shorn.
The tulip poplar out front blooms each spring,
more brown each year, the pine taller, the creek
more shallow, the drive redone six times since he’s gone.
Can I scratch a half-memory, still call it home?
Love a man only in pictures.
Take this quiet waxy amber, hardening
in my lymph nodes, polish polish
polish until it glints clean topaz.