The fall lingers too long, makes small
animals uneasy as they wait for a coldness they feel in their
bones must come. I stand beneath tall pines
while the squirrels above cry in outrage
and my uncle buries his wife. I am still young
enough to imagine love and pain separately
and I am years from meeting you.
In my dreams it is warm still as a pair of squirrels dare
to cross the street, pulling bottle-brush tails
behind them as they begin a dangerous dance.
The pavement is still warm beneath their feet as they move
left in front of right, her in front of him, graceful and
measured. They don’t pause and neither does the car,
moves on even after they must feel
the small body beneath their right tire. I do
stop, watch helplessly with the creature’s
mate as she waits up on the curb, watching while
he struggles with head flat against the pavement, rolling,
rolling as the cars go by.
Later, I’m sure the grave-diggers rejoice in the softness
of the dirt and thus the ease of their labor as they return
home early to their families.
Even later, my uncle starts seeing someone
Last night I dreamt you were bit by a rattlesnake
in the same basalt canyons I know so well.
Your voice rose to a cry.
Your skin swelled like a ripe plum
and somehow I knew the flesh beneath would match.
I couldn’t carry you out so I laid with you until I woke up,
then laid with you some more until I was
satisfied by your pale, unbroken skin and
returned to sleep.
Rachel Egly is a bi poet, engineer, and ecologist in love with all things water. Her work has previously appeared in Words Dance. She currently lives in Chicago with her partner and cat, where she catches crayfish, naps as much as possible, and spends most of her money on good food.