AFTERNOON IN THE WOODS
What I love about the woods
is that you can scream
and no one will come. Some days
sound’s the only way pain can flee
the body. I want to be grown
of wildflowers, but I’m all thorn. Years ago,
my father came home alone from a bike ride,
his face a broken window strangled
by vines. He held out his arms and I ran
into forest, headed for the tree
I’d made a home of. At the hospital,
my mother’s body plum-colored, her face
all stitches and bruise. My father
thumbing the blood on her brow. I’m so sorry.
I didn’t see you. How do we bear
even the tenderest touch, knowing
what we know: the potential for disaster.
Wind, rustling leaves. Fading footsteps.
Mangled bicycles. Flutter of wings,
then birdcall. I lark. I longing. I clench
handfuls of dirt. There’s no name for the scent
of these fallen leaves, hot under the sun.
And how dare my body want
another body, heat, a hand in mine. This town
of black ice, half-burned trees, cracked
lips and nosebleeds. Once, I let tears fall
and someone hovered over me, her lips
on my cheek, mouth blurred
with my salt. I was wanted, then—touched
like a plucked plum. Now, I clutch
handfuls of dirt, and a thorn pricks my pinky.
How easily the body breaks,
blood such a striking color.