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an excerpt from Heathen

A sand road like a paper sky. We will all become relics.

A kerosene tank, a rusted kiln,

a line of dust-white trucks and vans.

All threadbare. There is a lilting sign that touts

Cold Drinks. That is what

this landscape is. Fertile pines and wind.

Even now, in this beatific moment, a miraculous depression rides me and death has lovely wrists.


A small oasis. Mud and mosquitoes

force me back to the pen. Such fruitless questions.

Pollen and germination. One speck of truth buried beneath conjecture.

But I am left wondering if anyone ever thought to, could have been bothered to, hold her until she could calm her body down? Did she have breathless adrenaline

dreams of never being rescued? Night whispers its lie:

God never gives you more than you can handle.


Whatever. In the workshop ahead awaits the continual moan of the fluorescent lights. Like an accusation,

the rhythmic logic of the blacksmith clangs. This image. Singular. A reminder of how persistent is the nature of shame. Shame on me, seeking an answer there is no pattern. I blink.

Insect bites ignored. I pad back to my rented room. I resist the urge to scratch, to dial anyone who has ever treated me well. Each busy signal,

each recorded voice, each silence becomes another shovel of dirt.

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