Someday she will start writing,
leaving her fear behind—
a coat on the doorstep.
Words, rusty in their hinges,
will blow against the old barn,
will whistle in the thin rain.
She’ll hear a door close
with a bang, a dog howl
at each passing shadow.
The narrow streets will get muddy,
then muddier. Where the thick
stream empties its bowels
into the marsh, she’ll step with much
care, lest she drop the exquisite
weight of her body
into the calm, treacherous swamp
of a poem. Before long, she’ll learn
to recognize the footprints
of wild animals, to welcome
death at the fangs of a predator
on some beaten path.
She’ll wander farther into the marsh
only to return with more
than her hands can carry:
the dry, flickering tongues
of the dead, the salt
harvested from her own tears.
First published in Watershed Review, Fall 2018