There is no mortician or used car dealer in the town
where they tested the bomb. No place to bury bodies
without disturbing nuclear dust, Oppenheimer dead
from multiple cellular mutations. We move out of desert
towards hurricane memories and seashell swamps and she
tells me about the acres of land she will buy, the horses
she will count and name. We have nothing in common
but funerals and highways and she searches for cigarettes.
I wonder if I am wrong to be suspicious of grapes grown
in sand fertilized by heron hatchlings. Pirate’s gold. Purple
wildflowers shaded by Spanish moss. Azaleas and palm trees
search for April sunshine and billboards appear like haunted
ships in fog. Breast enhancements, injury law hotline, gun show
at the state fairgrounds. I suggest Clementine, Madeline,
Layla, knowing that she hasn’t slept more than three hours
at a time for the last four years. O Lord Make a Shepherd
of Me in this land of bone dice and my stepmother’s suicide.
I want to swallow salt and fiddler crabs, but I taste panther
and pig, the lovely buzzing of low flying planes. The wildfire
daydreams of insomniacs and horses and unexpected cows.
Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn.