Paul Bilger, Maple Seeds (photograph)

This procession of dump trucks
means construction on nearby land,
and no river near moves fast enough
to wash away the red clay stains.
Orange haze, the ghost of fire—
a dust on leaves and brush
and even me, inside and out, watermark
of a flood that began as grief, as trees
snapped and crashed to the ground, bulldozed
to make room for off-site lawyers.
Meanwhile, nothing has changed.
I run the three mile loop and step over creeks
that stink of trash, while horse flies chase me
down blacktop roads I know by heart.
An insect rumble in my feet tells me
when dump trucks will pass,
and whether they are empty or full.
What does the goose know, laughing above
in minor notes? Blackbirds erupt
from bamboo. A roadkill possum unbecomes,
its smashed mouth making a meal
of nothing on the side of the road.
Eternity of buckshot and frogs,
all these dump trucks with their quarry haul—
will I walk on water when I reach
the bottomless lake they’ve left behind?


Alison Pelegrin