watched them nose downstream like calm swans,walked the fence line with sticks, set the slats clacking.
We opened a pack of stolen matches, their soft blue headsrow upon row like soldiers, struck one and held it out
to the others, each setting the next aflame, threw
them all under a thorn bush, watched the drawn face
on the cover burn away. There was no should or shouldn’t
where we came from, the mud fields stretched out before us.
We kicked down posts with their bullet-riddled signs,
the wood punky with weather and bugs. We left shreds
of our t-shirts on barbed wire, the tracks of our tennis shoes,
each sole with its own pattern and rick-rack design.
We yelled into the canyon, our voices returning,
crowning us, cursing us, with our own names, a cloud
of swallows flying home to roost, their scissor wings
almost touching, their bodies one body like our dreams
made visible, like our shared secrets bringing on the dark.
Dorianne Laux is author of several poetry collections, most recently The Book of Men. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Laux lives in Raleigh where she teaches for the MFA program at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty for Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program.