Jamie Ross

Issue #
October 3, 2017


Even as I leave, the cabin
is not retreating, nor the café women

speaking old Castilian, five centuries
mixed with dirt and anguish, stumps

and hammered rails, Servilleta
winter, Vallecitos mud; the lingo

of the men who brought the sawmills,
bars and dancehalls, brown girls

from Moline; their own
rough usage, their own displacement.

Even as I left you once before,
a voice splits in my bones, echoes

from the Gorge—was this yours,
was it birds? I feared it wasn’t human,

nor was I, so many years alone
I’d thought my nights a wolf, perhaps

it was the highway or my truck, the elk
in the Petaca, black coffee has a purpose

as all do dark and bitter, because you
stayed for years in snow that no one

dreads in Guatemala, I didn’t
weave alpaca, or parrot, run with deer,

I was only a wolf, more truly a howl,
how desire’s thought listens

for your own, how I might find
your breasts and breath, the will

to lift up beams, nail studs, sink rock,
wrench pliers, bolts and drivers, fix

an ancient starter going flat again. Even
as I leave, the engine coughs, the pulleys

screech, yowl. I thought I was a wolf;
the women sit, silent with their rosaries,

their beads clicking like birds. You,
my raven, from the left rib of time.

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