Amy Elisabeth Smith
I AM A THORN IN THE GORSE
and the pit of the left-indent
of the bite. I am the hard teeth,
the trick shins, the better son
and the reddest, coughing meat.
I am the sore throat brimmed
by thin hands, the girl made soft
in balled fists, by stained glass fitted
to wooden windows in lesser light.
I am her bones ruined by dumb veins.
I am thickened by oiled palms,
flung to pyre in early morning
like bread crumbs tossed to geese.
Most nights, we're the fray
of split string, our name
the prefix for decades
of downed wheat.
He's been the thumb
to guide the bone needle,
been the drag of heat
and spinal hay.
But last harvest, he forgot
that I'm the whole crop,
the whole yield: I am the thresh
and dry bale, each splinter
an invite to ignore the seam
gone slack on the darn.
SHE IS BORN ABOVE HIS CHEEKBONE
but swims back, both knees
three feet from the crest. To him,
she is a tide he tries to wade.
She is six hundred drops
of Devil's Lake. He says she's lucky
to leave the pull of puddle
and sky to pool at his feet.
She is bred by him
and craters to be smooth,
to be free of runoff
and flume. In his palm,
she's the wet shape he needs
to believe. She leaks off-hand,
moves to river each line
of his fist. She leaves
and loosens the packed dirt
from his skin. She makes grit for him.
She dries up. She locks his hands in prayer.
NORTH POND, MAINE
If she'd asked, he would've led her
to the lintel from the washed cleft
of his forceps. He'd have crept her
past the grist of backyard litter
and gripped the full carbon
thrust of her without a single knuckle
flown. Had she let him in
like thumbs through chain-link,
he'd have been like day-old dough
in her hands, like muscle
and sap in her triggered palms.