Home Alone, June

Prairie Fire - - EMILY SKOV- NIELSEN -

I’m bent over the cut­ting board slic­ing toma­toes

with a ser­rated knife—de­cid­ing if I should leave you.

You’ve taken the kids camp­ing, set them loose

to rab­bit around fields of fire­weed and drag­on­flies,

to ex­er­cise the myths in their lean mus­cles.

Here at home, the air is clot­ted with the sound of geese—

the blare of their brass valved throats echoes in the near-empty house.

The coy­otes are hunt­ing me again, their lithe whines wan­der­ing in,

quick to catch the scent, the in­stinc­tual dread of the do­mes­tic,

of be­ing caught in a ravel of home­spun rooms.

I’m think­ing about last night, when I sat across from you

at the kitchen ta­ble and watched the old man in your eyes

gather space in his hands like rope, like net­ting, like women’s hair—

wife, spouse—tonight I’ll lie awake, emp­tied of these names,

they’ll drain from me like rain off eaves, into a rivulet of words

rinsed of their mean­ings, re­fined into name­less sound stream­ing

through a cul­vert un­der the road, past the sti­fling white houses

and over­grown gar­dens, ’til ar­riv­ing at a river where

an old woman wades, wel­com­ing the outfall.

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