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.
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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