Williamson Brasfield, from Barrier Islands, 2011 (photograph)

Father's coffin and the petals
of an opening mouth. 
He was an absence, 
a complete absorption of light. 

Tongue's rot, funeral rot – 
these are not the same. 

Master made by hound. Man
and the dog he drags
by an invisible length of rope. 
Shepherd, give me back
my country of winter. 
Give me back silence

between bleached streets. Moon
resting her belly on the tin roof
of a farmhouse. Mother hiding
sounds of sobbing behind a marble
handled door. The creatures of her own

father's hands. The warm eggs
I found between the bricks
near the coop, how sometimes
the harder surfaces are where
we need to nest. 

Mule I made from pillow innards,
chicken wire, and the leather
of a lampshade. The difference
between infertility and impotency. 

We all had a choice. 

I set fire to the Virginia field and rode
out. Made for a mountain, her
crown of snow. A single
spider crossed my cheek. 

How I untangled
the fishing wire from flesh.
How I learned to unlove that man
before I swallowed the hook
of his death.


Caitlin Scarano