The combing is constant—even dreaming
our eyes sift scythe-like
the pink-black back of the socket. Paths
break in the wake. We curry. We scan.
We ran at the minute cracks
sounding the carpet of twigs or the sudden
lift and swish of a leaf-hushed branch.
We read. We waited, tensed to recognize
the familiar shape, old patterns locking
the keening stomach driving forward
the pilot body, receptor of symbols and signs,
like the flagellant that bows
her matted, dulled crown
to sky, the curving domain of the whip
that snakes and raises red routes
over her back, scribbling the skin
into a map that signals the territory
we move to, through, inside
the next clearing, to the far screen of trees,
Shoots unscroll from the dirt, unfurl
leaves broad and flat as the sun overhead
where fruit swells and softens, liquefies
inside skins under the nesting eggs
hardening on the branch. Fledglings
abandon. Dearths and lessens, thins
and winters. In the hard wither and black
we bend to the track, casting eyes side
to side, searching with no end not
our own for the flesh of our backs.
Maggie Queeney holds MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared most recently in the Southern Poetry Review, The Southeast Review, and Handsome.