The south I know holds an ancient pang, ancient like I say
and my late grandma said here, as if with an x or a hint
of an ain’t. Air lopes like a barn cat from the grass. The rain
earlier paused without urgency; our crepe myrtles doubly genuflect
in its damp. Planning to go west, soon now, feels makeshift: a movement
attempted in a nautical twilight, an invisible horizon waiting
for a low and buttered break. It feels like leaving again
the land I left already. Remember back at the farm, after picking up
hay? my father asked me recently. How the air was so soft you could wrap it
around you. What’s past arches at the roof of my mouth like salt. In an ocean
I remember, the brown water, cold, unrolls cleanly,
paper over me.
moon and no day to match it. Not yet 9 o’clock a girl walks by the bus on Pine with sores on both heels from her shoes. I suspect that I am not doing this right feel the bubble of leak in my chest when passing arrows to low clouds out the crack in my window. (moon with palmfuls of air) On the bus I stand above a woman cupping devil’s ivy in a yellow pot to her chest plant in hand in other hand. In my eye the pampas grass on the old state line blinking in the bright. (stand-and-wait moon) The old appalachian muds don’t redden my shoes or sidewalks any more. What use is a new mountain. (four crows in a line looking moon) When we listen to the fire trucks pass on the road feet from our chairs we are small or melting. In our apartment on the concrete floor I arrange water in straight lines then lick them up. Where is the moon for holding my horses or for getting out of your hair. I am leaving marks. My blood beats between my calves and they nose each other like animals. I live here now and in my body the salt and sweet are green and good and not enough.
I don’t understand this growing season: the blue bones of the mountain press
through the snow, the leaves of the London planes across my street turn
sickly green like bruised limes, and yet on a walk I take each day
a fresh Queen Anne’s lace opens its tatted hands to me.
The water is so heavy here, a stooped white sound
draped in the cedars’ gaps. We are mourning when
the lichen murmurs over fallen limbs and when the bark
of the graffitied tree shines bluely off the path and when skin wrinkles
and pales like berries left too late on a branch. The sky dips low, bobs into sleep
over the distant peaks, pendants like that weight in my abdomen echoing
in the opened spaces. There I feel what I see: dried grasses
colorless and juddering. I know a person can live most anywhere.
Our Lady of the Blue Ridge
On that thirtieth north, feels like, I can go north no
more. But you’re moving, you’d say, and you’d be right
and wrong for what you’re missing on earth. Our silvers rose
these past few weeks, as the temperature came closer to
skin’s. I wish you’d lay, I wish you’d lay me
down fluffed or washed, spindled or carded. This is
not coming easy. There are parts of you leaving. I’m misplacing
accents with the loss of home-tongue. My brother at the sleek
table refusing vegetables and she’d tell him well you just don’t know
what’s good. I’d give it up, what good I’ve got. And on Saturday
morning before they leave, we have our own preacher
on the corner, 12th & Main, preaching, says my father, says our father.
Emma Aylor is the author of Twos (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Handsome, The Adirondack Review, Two Serious Ladies, Sugar House Review, Vinyl, and elsewhere. She was born and raised in rural Virginia and now lives in Seattle, where she is an MFA candidate and teaching fellow at the University of Washington.