Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Copper Breaks State Park

I told you I didn’t think the dog would make it
only after he did, though I was relieved you had
shared the concern. That one wrong turn
off the trail left us plodding—Bull Canyon
to Chris’ Link to Thirsty Horse—the hours rolling
and lost. And all the while, sun unbroken
and sopping up the moisture from yesterday,
its pitiful and intermittent showers. Still, cactus
blooms held stubborn among the runoff,
magenta and yellow. I turned to show you,
but I saw first the dog’s failing hindquarters,
the fringes of fur rusted from his collapse
in the copper-rich dirt. I never told you I saw
the grimace stitched then to your face, how I buried
that moment, still tender, in the spined
ridges of the valley. Until now. Later that night,
as we laid tangled in front of the fire, the dog
twitched the rough translation of a dream
against us, and I thought once more of mesquite,
the piles in the fields we passed on the drive in,
and how the dead branches, heaped patient,
kept rustling. It seems they were meant to remain
unrooted there, or were so resigned. In that familiar
and true dark of a West Texas new moon,
we watched the sky fill—stars innumerable,
the horizon dusted—until it finally felt cluttered
and overrun.  

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