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LIE DOWN WHERE THEIR FACES ARE by James Allen Hall

The woman across the street
on her knees again, shut out in the snow
by her husband. Every week, this ritual:

a man, a crying woman, the blue cold
earth that marries them. When he lets
her in, she lays in bed next to him.

The woman across the street
on her knees again, shut out in the snow
by her husband. Every week, this ritual:

a man, a crying woman, the blue cold
earth that marries them. When he lets
her in, she lays in bed next to him.

He cries in her armpit. Even their
dog lays down, tree-chained heir,
his head between his paws. In the morning,

the woman is a satin worksong
torn by passing cars as it limps its hope
across the road to my ear. I want to stop

before I can be infected, I am humming
and counting out the pills I think of
as last. She sings to make her dress less

permeable to the snow. I want to know
the way to leave without leaving
soiled clothes behind. The song says

love will change the world, but spring is
a field of goldenrod, framed by thwarted
engines, rusting red in their back

yard, each empty socket eyeing its season
of repair. I can almost taste the weeds,
their waxy stems thick among the dented

fenders. So much land, every curse and love
too could be buried here. One night, late
March, the dog escapes into the forest.

Black fur a mangy blur against the trees.
They call for him all the next day.
The chain waits for him, its rusted collar

tight around my throat. If he returns,
he won’t be seen alive again. Fled,
he will live forever.

 

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About James Allen Hall

James Allen Hall
James Allen Hall's first book of poetry, Now You're the Enemy, won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Recent poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, New England Review, American Poetry Review, and Bloom.