(Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash)

This feathered knife,
this hatchet with eyes, this
killer is here first. For her
everything is too late.
Laughter, song are windless
in her reckoning,

and for her the story is sand.
She grows a long reach to kill
the rattler, the diamondback,
the sidewinder and

she asks no questions, her grammar
the bridges over dry rivers,
shattered litter along the highway,
blue thunder. She stands
upright. She stands even taller.

Noon. Steel crickets, iron scorpions.
She can count but has no numbers,
knows the viper by the night
of his eyes and she forgets
nothing. Forgets
nothing. She does not fly.

Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books. His new collection of poems, The Promised Rain, is in private circulation. He lives in Albany, California.

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Published in the December 2021 issue: View Contents
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