The almost life within me stretches out
a cairn atop my tender pubic bones
that burn and part, anticipating birth
as I speed through alkaline painted land
homeward bound, eager to shed the lonely
void of starlit sagebrush pocking the land
connecting Elko and Battle Mountain.
Until my bladder clenches and demands
diversion into the rest area
perched dim upon desolate camouflage
skirted in asphalt and sequined with a
flash of luminescence flickering like
aluminized vapor in my headlights
where I see her perched upon rangy-legs,
motley colored head turning toward me
as if aware of my hesitation.
I sit five thousand years seeking sanction
in her stare and soothing the raised flesh
peppering my neck and arms. In due course
I edge from the coupé with riotous pulse
a curious advance on liquid legs
and nearing her I can map each fine hair
illuminated by hovering light
I see her breath rise opaque in crisp air.
Fixed regal and undaunted this totem
inspects me through eyes like ancient mirrors
flecked and cracked pale behind inky iris,
nostrils splaying open as her head lifts.
Crablike I sidle into the doorway
and to the last stall where I cry soft tears
then fish-gasp for air. I exit because
we had no cell phones then, only moxie.
I place one foot in front of the other
with measured care. The heat from her body
warms my back as she follows me, clicking
syncopated to my breathing
At the car I think to inhale deeply
then whooshing whispers of the opened door
surge forth and batter the hushed evening
while I slide my extended body in.
Near the hood she tilts her head, curious
the crickets take up their chirping tempo
and the scent of sage and cedar wafts in.
I close the door with intentional care.
She strolls on delicate paws that lift then set
sinuously causing her entire length
to ripple with controlled power until
she is standing tall enough to meet me
face to face magnificent wolf, mother-in-making.
Published, thread Literary Inquiry Vol. 12
My childhood chicken-legs filled out: copper
freckles endure, reminders of summers
ridden wild, barefoot. Toes gripping knobby
bike pedals, pumping fast to avoid a
fall. Gravel roads, jagged and sharp, threatened
to catch me, care for me, to leave their scars.
Then, I left riding behind and dreamed of
escape, careful to stuff esteem next to my
socks and fear of being stuck in Blackfoot.
Locked away but coiled, poised to spring open
with keys made of streamers—white and streaking
my stomach with medals of honor pinned
in a Gaia battle, and in the wide
startled stare of newborn eyes connecting
with something instinctive within. For years
I crept out of Blackfoot and into authenticity.
Sweeping all roads of gravel for my sons,
watching for scars, before patriarchy
aimed its fist at my face and missed, hitting
the wall instead--leaving a hole that I
refused to patch. Reaching into a drawer
I found what I needed coiled and poised
between lace ankle socks and old photos.
And now. Oh! Now, I Am.
Mother, lover, gypsy, writer.
No longer feral—or maybe just enough
to shake things up at cocktail parties.
Published, thread, Literary Inquiry Vol. 12
Storm shutters are hung, so I wait.
Vulnerability is mustard gas
rolling in as I hunker where hours ago
geckos ran and squirrels flicked their tails
chattering under brochure-perfect sky
now gray as shadow’s fringe.
There is time to call my son, time to gauge
how deep his anger--how fast
maternalistic guilt will choke us.
Voicemail rescues me.
I light a cigarette, the one hidden
in the rusty tin behind the sugar,
then place heirloom Staffordshire dogs in the
dishwasher for safekeeping and exhale.
Revised October, 2019. Originally Published as "On Surviving Hurricanes and Mortality" in thread, Literary Inquiry Vol. 12
Pocatello guards the gateway
to verdant plains
tight between mountains’ shadow
where frothing waters snake
through purple camas blanket.
Did this chief stand proud upon the bluff
Headdress connecting cloud to earth
of loathsome deeds, of invasion.
Shoshone herded, stripped of home,
valley laid open, branded with iron tracks,
vulnerable to those who devour
language and culture, stealing
regalia. A headdress
for the Chamber of Commerce to don
parade each Fourth of July,
down Main, throwing
smiles and candy
to children lining the street
waving their fathers’ lessons.
Revised October, 2019. Originally published in Outrageous Fortune.