Drought

by Jane Morton

There was the time I drove the car into the creek,
             and then the time I was the creek
                          and almost drowned.

There was a year that turned the creek to stone.
             It wound its way through woods
                          that aren’t quite woods.

Trees too pale and nervous to be trees
             and grass that reached up
                          taller than I was.

In February I was getting better.
             The year began as gentle as a specter.
                          The air as clear and terrible as sight.

The doctor’s hands were small
             and blue; they flitted.
                          Death chewed steady

on my wrists, my hips. He touched
             my hair and eyelids, tongue and veins.
                          I sucked

on stones and clawed
             the dirt beneath them. Fingernails
                          dark crescent fertile moons.

I chewed them off, chewed steady
             through the morning. Mayfly nymphs
                          disrupted from their death-sleep.

Dreams of swarm, of flight, of body heat.
             I held the doctor’s hand; he touched
                          my shoulder.

Watched my blood crawl slow into the summer.
             More promises we knew
                          I couldn’t keep.

I’d give myself up for another, hungrier.
             I’ve traded self for self
                          yet I’m still me.

I thought I couldn’t live
             like this; I go on living.

Jane Morton is a poet and MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, where they are the online editor for Black Warrior Review. More of their work can be found in Muzzle Magazine, The Offing, and elsewhere.