You stand over me, water
running from your antlers and breasts.
I offer you my belly, the prairie rattler
coiled in my uterus, dropseed
blue grama and little bluestem locked
tight in its mouth against extinction.
You cloud a morning out of this place
born smooth as any grave.
It’s okay to weep in front of people—I tell myself
even the rock you gave me from the Colorado
for my birthday was granite opened and hammered
with clavicle, limestone, truckbed
and gutshot. Once I rocked shut to any soft word.
A crib by the side of the highway
of ribs slatted to wind. All my life
I’ve been running from that treeless cold,
yoked to plains and a winter woman’s
refusal to cry, to fold into threaded scrap
of tire shrapnel. I sucked a dead quail’s feathers in my mouth.
What I shed, I shed gladly. Touch my shoulders
and I’ll release all my grief at once
the way slabs of ice migrate
under chords of stars over roads
after prairie floods. You lean over me
and weep, afraid of what
we are. I tell you we are those animals
driven desperate by hunger to cross
a river too full to contain all this sky.
The closing lines borrow phrasing from my previously published poem “Jeremiad with Dead Foxes and Blackbird Songs”
Kelly Weber is the author of the debut poetry collection We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place (Tupelo Press, 2022) and the chapbook The Dodo Heart Museum (Dancing Girl Press, 2021). Her work has received Pushcart nominations and has appeared or is forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Brevity, The Missouri Review, Cream City Review, Palette Poetry, Southeast Review, Passages North, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and lives in Colorado with two rescue cats. More of her work can be found at kellymweber.com.