Elegy with Crows and Canebrake
Months before the moths outline mangled angels
the window screen. Months before
he loses his temper, puts her bitch down
for biting. Baloney, she says, hooks her thumbs
in his belt as if sex will help. Out back
the rapids of the arroyo a jagged smile
they lost a kid to one night, hiccupping
whiskey. Poor soul, the he he was
gone into the blue too soon. Before the doc
calls it ruthless, her man’s chest hollow
as a guitarra, neck a braided collar in a Kahlo
print. Before he paints his self portrait
with canebrake & demons disguised as crows,
she ropes him. Held belt, pins his back
to barbwire, & like every tooth
he’ll wiggle loose, she stores reminders.
Saves the harness of every dead horse
he loved because she knows she’ll forget
him otherwise. Months before foxes gown
the hillside in the grey dawn, she studies
his empty leather belt, the buckle
a battered set of horns, fake gold plating
she can peel off with her nail. Before the doc
calls it too far gone. Before the doc keeps calling.
How for weeks they found signs
of the drowned boy, a fifth half-filled
with sand, the ghost’s clothes: a boot all-buried
but the toe in the wash-out, his white boxers
hung like a bandana over the arm
of a saguaro. But never the boy himself.
How she lays against her man nights
& hears nothing in his chest like she sleeps
on the glass-thin ice over a draining lake.
A land haunted by the leaving, by what’s left.
148 The Paris-American
Casey Thayer holds an MFA from Northern Michigan University. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Devil's Lake, North American Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. This fall, he will begin a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.
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