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  • WLS

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, deLuge Journal, The Portland Review, and LVNG Magazine (Flood Editions).

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