published in Cliff Lynn's
new magazine TEXTure
That summer my first love and I
lived in a cave we dug in an old
pit near Three Rivers, Wisconsin.
Five years old, under a roof of reeds
spread across our stick frame,
we lay close the way parents do,
My love's diabetic brother, seven,
who every day got shots from the nurse,
tunneled his own cave next door.
Beyond our forbidden quarry,
pastures stretched past the creek,
field corn rose higher and higher.
We lost ourselves in forests of stalks,
then reset our compass, plotted a course
back to our cave, ate our apples and bread.
Suddenly the hill avalanched—
We flailed our hands—fingers
entangled in branches and vines—
Sand sifted over us—Sand choked
our throats—My love grew sleepy
beneath our blanket of sand…
His brother managed to crawl
from his own ruined cave.
We heard his stuttered words—
Trying to dig through your roof—
Shaking too hard—His later report:
Walked miles to find a farmer,
he promised a search and rescue,
soon as he milked
his thirty bellowing cows.
Crows threatened to pluck out my eyes.
My ribs hurt and my love grew cool
for so warm a day. Dusk fell over us.
I felt bugs climb our mountain of selves,
heard dogs—or wolves?—howl above us,
the scratch of rat claws on our pails,
then shouts of unfamiliar men but
I remembered: don't talk with strangers,
above all not at night…
At dawn strangers dug us out.
Next day they buried my love again.
His brother and I cried for days and days…
And now I cannot recall their names…
Ann Arbor Review, 2016
Harbingers, Poets Choice Publishing, 2017