We built fences along the spine
of the Blue Ridge, bore through
the shale deposits like a fist
invading the sovereignty
of someone’s nose. We sweated
through our heat-faded shirts,
turned tawny and blistered in the sun, swung
hammers the way I imagine the first ape
to wield a limb felt just before it struck
some other lumbering biped
who up until then had only known
the world as impression
and not as the brutish howl
of now. It’s not the nails that matter
but the hand that drives them home.
From the petulant keening
of a circular saw comes the shadowbox
embracing a tidy swath
of centipede grass, next
to the hurricane wire whose future
is all rust and dirtied sneakers
seeking purchase. So much
to preserve, so much to keep
at a distance, behind the barrier
of our needing. We built fences
because it’s anyone’s guess
who the world belongs to.
There is too much of me, too much
to account for, too many parts hewn
from dust and whatever is left
after the last nervous laugh
has been expelled from the lungs
like a drunk staggering out of a pub
into the star-addled dark, toward the icy
comfort of a curb, or the last
slice of cake has been shoveled down
a greedy gullet, as though to consume
were to seal the wound. How do I shed
years of wanting anything less?
Too much to remold.
I’ve been told of the sweetness
of blood, candied organs, a world
of misspent currency. I’ve forgotten
more than I could ever recall.
I want to reassemble my bones
into an alter where even the most
tantrum-prone god can be lulled
to sleep. I want to tell you
that I am finally full.
Image: Split-rail fence, Virginia. Public Domain.