It is all here for you, beneath your wounds
and the mustard sky. They might have told you this,

but probably it was you who decided it, the rheumy flatfoot

muddled by psalms. It was the only thing you had a knack for,

words. You knew the kingdoms they erected and crushed.

You thought: all I need is a good woman and a cabin on a lake.

Now the stars are too familiar out here and fail to cut.
The birds note you with disinterest.

Bears chuff on the rise like apes.

When you leave for the lake these mornings,

the mountains are flocked with snow. Your bad arm

is a rusted bell, knees two stale horses on some pocked trail.

If your woman feels inwardly like the women in your books do,

hasty and vicious in love, she doesn’t say. So you think

it is slim wishing, those miracles. Fictional tides. She eyes you

like a blue fox, let down and weary from your slow drag.

You see her at your table watching her tines. Wanting anything

real but coming up clean. You try imagining what it’s like for her,

but you can’t. You just pick at her body, loll in porch chairs.

You might just keep thinking of the fish you didn’t catch,

the ragged holes in the ice you thread with chum.

Please, you say to the violent hills. You will never say

I thank you now. Or I sleep like kings. You’ll forever

eat yourself whole in some other better land.

Always greedy and dreaming you’re starved.

Drink deep, lest you dry out before spring.