I cracked open your ice-bound soul, stepping in.
Wading out, I minded only reeds and revisions,
the sterile passion of a polymer muse.
But I kicked up the sediment, and out wafted
Colorado’s state motto, stale nicotine, drunken muscle memory, spikes of broken strings, trembling hands, scrawls of hair, unmade sheets, unmade plans.
Panicking, I tore you out.
(Only some poets are heart surgeons.)
Watching the loose leaf migration fold up the summer sun,
scattering you to the four corners of town,
I hoped maybe you would understand
because you read.
But I’m a leather-bound
Because you don’t.
Broken spine, tattered skin,
Drowning in your own veins,
Walking the razor’s edge until you bleed blue,
Licking sugar from a twin blade, the sweet agony of this double-sided instrument,
no stranger to iron in the river system,
You write like an hourglass in zero gravity.
And writers need readers
like the wolf needs the deer.
But I know how all your stories end.
The carnivores turn on each other,
while the deer stands down in the water,
JULY, RECLINING NUDE, STUDY #7, 1994
M.J. Cleghorn, of Athabaskan and Eyak heritage, lives and writes near the banks of the Matanuska river in the Palmer Butte, Alaska, where the moose, wild dog~ roses and salmonberries provide unending joy and inspiration.