Appalachian Armistice

In the morning, through the buzz of the black gnats
around my head, over the Appalachian jungle, down
from the robin egg blue sky, I hear the subtle song
of a chainsaw whirring like the wings of a ruby-
throated hummingbird in the mimosa of my memory,
calling me to woman and the first meal of the day.

She comes to breakfast with her nipples pressed tight
against her cotton shirt. Roused from their slumber by the
cool air of the morning, they reach out to me, seeking my
tender touch. But I must satisfy myself with two grapes
gleaned from the silver bowl on the table. I bite down and
feel the sweet spray of them against the inside of my cheek.

My desires dwell way down deep in my belly and sleep
there like the copperhead coiled on a warm rock beside a
nameless mailbox that swallows my hand whole in its toothless
metal maw. It is the afternoon and I have come to check for
mail. I could disturb the snake, take the shovel in the tractor
shed and end our fragile peace, but I decide to leave him
sleeping there. Inside the box, my fingers close on air.

Summer 1996 at RR, West Virginia


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