Elizabeth Pelley, Barn (oil on canvas)

Mud. Scrap metal. Bent rebar.
Chain-link fences. Grass in a ditch.
Do you see what I'm living on?
Three stolen jawbones
and a burl
weathered into the shape of an eye.
The river water
gnaws algae off the old rocks
that are my house.
Inside the rocks
water drips
and I don't know from where.
I never told you
what the big forest
and the fish-heavy
cricks have done
to me. And what I think I've done to them.
I never will.
Do you remember that underwear
we found in the ramshackle distillery,
how we ran and ran and screamed
until our throats became
the throats of birds and we sang
the sun down?
The language of childhood
is the language of caves
and nights and the sea's yearning
and its songs are the songs
of rivers and how beautiful
all our bodies were.
Do you remember
when we thought that pack of thunderheads
hanging over the dam
was the end
of the world
and we danced?
Tonight, when the orange moon
blows up the horizon
from Edwall
to Washtucna, I'm packing my books
and my little pill bottle.
I'm never coming back.


Jackson Holbert