there is nothing quite like the tenderness

untested pressures like cool palms pressed against water, to the cheeks’ skin

she wants stories about love, the pretty things,

the flower fields and grass in the steam of dawn

she practices the motions of beauty:

rolls toward the sunrise, writhes

beneath the blue dawn and the reeds, and dances in praise near

the altar of the bass drum,

the hands like living waves

and trading the dust for sweat and rain

the youth is creeping into the woods,

feet first towards the forests,

eyes glazed in the night air and pulsing to the wingbeats of owls,

she has a fear of th

e forwardness,

of the small worms in the earth

collecting on the feet, eating away her ankles and living in

the boar’s ribs,

the dreariness and the nightmares of dust collect on her mind’s plug,

she wants them to go away, the bodies, the trouble, the cresting notion of self doubt

the armored pill is at her lips,

pursing between the ridges,

living on the tip of the tongue, and hiding between her teeth

the bees

are nesting, manifesting their dreaded waltzing patterns

like a prison forming on the fogged cab windows

she is locking the doors, telling the driver stories about her father,

and there are lies dripping from the gloss of her lips

comfort is disguised as superiority, inadequacy beating against her chest.

the streets are calm, the air is crushing,

and the youth is crawling up her spine’s rafters and hanging from the chest wall,

her stigmata burn of guilt as she closes the door

an owl screeches in her walls, scratching

until the blankets are cold

the quiet grows into the ceiling, the remorse slinks into the guts

of the building, and tightness leaves her shoulders

refuge

from age returns, and momentarily

the child crawls back into her dreams—

haunting the wilds, like a whisper

in the parade.

[photo: Artist Mike Dargas in his studio]

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