After the war

in the soil of my palms, I found
the teeth of young boys sown 
shallow in the lifeless loam. Of course 
I didn’t ask for this. The wolf came
inside me, splayed, and before I knew it
there they were. Dark, bloodied riddles.
Body, a quarry. And the peach trees 
leaned in to whisper If we’d known 
you were alone…
It took awhile

but I forgave them. Odd as it is, 
in fact, I danced a little. It started
as a writhe, sure—trembling
in those dark wooded hollows. My body was
raw, after all. Still the little spiders 
swayed with me, called for the finches 
to lift me back to the living. We started slow: 
grapevines in the meadow. Then the Charleston, 
made-up jitterbugs, years gone by.
In joined the foxes and the loons, rabbits 
and crows. The peacocks joined hands
with the mudpuppies, herons, moths, skinks
among ponies, lemmings, twelve-point bucks. 
They tossed me their names, knowing my hands 
and somehow I learned to juggle them all.

Gosh, it was a time in my life. 
There among the beasts. When the crickets 
joined in with the cicadas, bowing their wings,
we’d all go still as night, climb up
in the giant maple beside the river
watching the barges go by like seasons.
And yeah, it did feel a little sad, didn’t it?
Joy wore a heavy cloak then. I’d look down
at my hands and say Y’all
I keep having this dream…
and the whale would bellow all the way
from the coast We know, baby. It’s gone now.
And somehow, that was enough.
I know, right? It really was though,
as the barges sang their tunes 
until the river flooded with stars.

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