The summer I died the first time,
locusts carved the corn to its cusp. That fall,
I whispered the cornfields, the coffins,
the blackbirds, hollowed my mouth
around the words. I said fullness, dreamt of gods,
of open mouths, and each time I almost meant it
new blood promised itself to land.
Blood a promised land, a mother
tongue, a sudden mother. Imagine a tree falls
in the forest. Hold on. There is
no forest. Wait. What? Where are we?
We pretend we are
the chosen ones. I’ll be the good daughter,
and you can kill me over and
over. And then I’m crying in your lap
and you’re a catfish of a girl, drawing
wounds across your hand with a cornstalk, withering
facts for my comfort. Let’s play a game. I’ll say
we’re more than a dusty gun and you’ll say we’ll make it
to eighteen. See, I’m thinking about Ohio cornfields,
how they said anything could hide here,
snakes, secrets, and we tried. God, we tried.
When you’re sixteen and in love with a girl,
a big city is the only escape. Train rides
scorched out years in advance. Your being
unlikely. The angels do not come. Your devils
do not come. Then you’re driving
down the interstate and the toll booth says one
How we run into the fire screaming,
wailing tragedy, as if anything needed us
to be named.
Name everything. Strike a match on the cornfields,
watch them bloom, a cartography of stars, a map
with our lives on it. I promise you, I am dreaming
of poems about corn and nothing else, of claiming bodies alive
and imperfect, unlikely girls growing old as smoke,
of trembling lips touching in a different air.