Sestina w/ Beagle // WLS
The flowers breathe deep in the dark. Peel
their ragged petals down their stems with
each inhalation. Wide, velvet mouths open,
fuzzy tongues bleached. Petals ruining
in the cold air. Rhizomes plunged deep.
Bulbs preserved and poised to begin again.
I walk my dog. Circle the same block again.
She freezes on the lead, I jerk the leash. Peel
her from a lamppost, where she’s paw-deep
in poison ivy. We wander alleyways with-
out destination, through back yard ruins:
woodpiles, gnarled gardens, gates left open.
The pre-dawn moon is a small shell opening
its eye. A light rain wets our coats. Again,
there is hope the crop will not be ruined
by too much heat. A good season: carrots to peel
garlic to crush, beans to snap and boil with
a bit of bacon. Knobby potatoes of a deep
purple, unearthed from damp dirt, where deep
roots wriggle. Next to the garden; an open
field, a train track, then a neighborhood with
a tall fence. Kids light bottle rockets again
and again. They spiral skyward, followed by a peel
of laughter from the kids, ‘til the parents shout, ruin
the game. I kneel in the dirt. Mourn the squash ruined
by little leggy bugs with spotted backs who gnaw deep
grooves into the vines. These wounds, white, peeling,
allow bacteria to enter the blood through their opening.
I've spent hours combing the tangle. Again
I am here, plucking sticky eggs from leaves with
my pinched fingers. The adults must be snubbed with
the toe of my boot. I do not enjoy cruelty. They ruin
the crop. I’ve given them the watermelon already. Again,
bottle rocket, whistle. I spot a beagle, hear his deep
whine, through the thicket, his eyes edged in white, open.
His scream is widening. I think, what if he panics. Peels
out of the underbrush, into an oncoming train, deeply
dumb-struck by panic, frantic to end it. He'd crack open
at impact, his flesh flayed away from his bone like a peel.
WLS is a poet living in Bloomington, IN. She teaches Creative Writing at Indiana University. Her chapbook, Psychogynecology, was published by Monster House Press is 2015. Since 2016, she has served as a poetry editor for Monster House Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming online at Poets.org, deLuge Journal, The Portland Review, and LVNG Magazine (Flood Editions).