Deep South

This latitude’s a knife skinning bone bare.
Heavy with ducks these clouds weigh down a sky
you can’t help wearing like a hat. See there, my home-
ward road spools red to the horizon.
Alongside, lowslung alligators trawl their hunger
sleeplessly through water dull as lead.

I knew these prone green lands might lead
your hill-bent heart into despair.
Mountains have a way of quieting your hunger
where their stone teeth bite off the sky,
where hardened hands of pine reign in the horizon
till it’s touchable and funnel you toward home.

I know. But height has never been my home.
The marsh, the crawfish pond, the lead
we empty from my cousin’s gun at the horizon:
absent this weft my resume’s threadbare.
Like a desert plant meditating on sky
I’ve gone dormant with the denial of my hunger.

But here the air seeps humid green and hunger
is the echo that comes back from voices hollering home.
You want a leap to land you closer to the sky,
want water to stop spilling. These distances are lead
weights swinging from your heart: you cannot bear
to plumb the well. A woman sets her eyes on

the pelicans whose far-off wings suture the horizon
in a way that calms an incessant, never-mentioned hunger,
and suddenly you are afraid. Her bright, bare,
almost indecent longing for a home
she hardly remembers. Yet swears she could lead
you to blindfolded, or looking only at the sky.

There I go again. Third person, holding forth on sky.
Look, love, that’s tomorrow on the horizon.
Hammered by rain the day’s gold dulls to lead
leaving only the prerequisites for joy, which are hunger
and our hands. I told you no one would be home.
Way out where the power lines converge, see how bare

currents lead the sun through a drawn-down sky
like some autumnal bear whose den is the horizon?
That line of light at dusk, that hunger is my home.