Akhmatova’s Gun

Black-and-white photo of a picket fence around a house

after Matthew Dickman, loosely

In the woods behind our first house, that picketless patch
of silence where we buried a precious yipper named Pinka,
seven years of christmas trees laid to RIP in the grip of kudzu,

I was thinking of the soul, that bow-legged buttercup, that
big Nothing which rose or resurrected, unless you count my wedding ring,
the whole fifty dollars of sterling swear-words I launched

into the woods’ open mouth; the symbol you fished out with
rental metal detector. I was gathering my thoughts on marriage
being heavy as heartwood, a solid core buried deep in tree marrow,

thinking time is money we lack as the climate of opinion
keeps warming, permission to speak bites back like a mouse-trap.
I was racking all this, and remembering why I love you

most honestly at night, after day has lost its voice, and everything
softens, how tenderness steeps like tea we must cool before tasting,
the steam of waiting you taught me. Keep teaching.

In the front yard, near the blight-hobbled dogwoods, the metal
taste of panic thickening my tongue, I was thinking of the distance
between freedom and papers, how one thing in words

means running if you write it. I was remembering the soft
nose of our goat, how close it felt to the soul, that busted tulip,
the ground grows those incredulous ornaments without explanation.

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