Touch this rattlesnake. No escape. Smooth scales
On sun-browned shoulders, better than aloe
On your red neck. In one hallelujah,
Barefoot, turn and turn and dance with him. Dream
Night, sweet timothy hay, dandelion
Ghosts rise when you let go his hands to fall
Into the sky. The laugh no one will hear.
Touch no one can see. Pleasure serrated
As stable walls, the riverbed, his knife
And its silver smile, skin a copper thread.
Turn, turn, and dance your feet into cotton,
The ropes you ask him to use. Teach loss, mouth
Open, the no in every neighbor’s smile.
Gold wine carried by the preacher’s son. White
Windowpane. This feeling limitless and electric
Like his golden waist, tongue tracing his name.
Snake around your chest, his head in your hair,
Nothing left but breath, choke and dust, undone.
Big Wheeling Creek, 2016
The day the water comes, Mother and Son
Are down by the Dairy Queen, laughing
About The time your sister said, and I declare,
Or perhaps And the dog ran right into your school
Like we were all on Peter Pan, as the skies turned
Brown and blue and green, some kind of heavenly
Confluence of the New, Kanawha, Monongahela—
And Mother said, Hush now, there’s always a little rain
Come summertime. And we all believed.
One of us was dangling his feet in the riverbank,
Dreaming of asking that girl, at last, to the fair,
And one of us was watching the hair on her arms
Raise up like hands at the last revival, and she shivered—
Was there a moment before? Raised on stories
Of Buffalo Creek and Election Day ‘85,
Caught between coal fire and the threat of flood,
We know we all, at last, will surrender to one,
But never here, behind the ice cream store, beside
The creek, barely ankle-deep.
Tonight, the world. His back a granite cliff
Buffeted by valley, his hands the rope
Pulling me toward the stars. Again, again,
All diamond night our slow resurrection.
The sky our breath rising. Each coyote
Echo a baptism, distance between
This mountain and tomorrow further than
North from south, from now to hallelujah.
Under the wolf moon, we move like a cloud
Of pollen, a white cotton sheet billowed
Into sky. What legs are his, what hands mine.