Lost in a Field of Lilacs by Joshua Martin

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, between 2007 and 2012 drug wholesalers shipped to West Virginia seven hundred and eighty million pills of hydrocodone (the generic name for Vicodin) and oxycodone (the generic name for OxyContin). That was enough to give each resident four hundred and thirty-three pills.

~ Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker

Not gallons of rotgut filling copper stills
miles back in the silent pines, nor rifles

dropped in the bored hands of children waiting
for football, but a sphere the size of a fingernail,

white like porcelain gleaming on a stained oak shelf.
I’ve seen them fall out of overalls, blazers, sequined purses,

hit the ground like doves spilled from a linen nest. 
And I too have picked them up, let them dissolve beneath

my tongue the way high tide seems to take 
the moon in its salty mouth. Many nights I believed

in their promise of warmth - my body slouched
on the couch like a puppet with cut strings, my mind 

leading me through a lilac-brimmed field 
where God rode the wind like a sparrow. How I wanted 

to lay in that field for years, stretched out 
in bluegrass, the wind a thousand fingertips eroding 

my body’s knife-gaunt ridges, Time the touch
of warm rain. For hours I stayed curled

under a blanket of loam, dreaming of smokestacks
swelling with zinnias. Then, the first bitter chill

of morning and the realization that I’d trespassed here, 
that a man from beyond the trees would soon  

stumble down, kick me until I could only crawl 
toward the sharp-kneed daylight, the slaves

of my hands bleeding for anything in this world 
that would take more and more to return to.

Joshua Martin has published or has work forthcoming in The Raleigh Review, The Nashville Review, The Cortland Review, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere. His chapbook Passing Through Meat Camp was a finalist for the 2015 Jacar Press Chapbook award, and he was a finalist in the 2016 Coal Hill Chapbook Contest. He is a Ph.D. student in creative writing at Georgia State University where he teaches freshman composition.

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