It wasn’t crimson on the cap of blackbird wings
or wound in knots of prairie grass.
It wasn’t riding between dry coyote bones
or silt whirled up by mallard legs.
It was here. In the yard. In the house.
In the room. In the cupboards.
In what I ate and forgot to taste.
Swallowed forcefully, those invisible juices
that extract the sun from the rest.
Still it clung to the slippery walls of my throat,
where chickens carry rocks and glass.
Like all secrets, waiting in dusty corners to dart
when the door doesn’t latch behind.
Giving chase through fields of ticks and rusting parts,
past where lungs can grab the air.
I should have let it out to run,
pant and tire, sleeping in the shed.
Instead it breaks apart, traveling
into places even I haven’t been:
My spleen. My liver. My vertebra.
Behind my nose. The back of my eyes.
So small I allow it to stay.
So big I cannot force it to leave.
First published in Plainsongs Poetry Magazine, Summer 2022