The trees in this town used to sway, almost whisper.
Now they’re too dry, too dead. I have a memory
of kissing a boy under these oaks.
Clean, pastoral, we laid
down on the cool, soft earth, and the earth was spongy, gave
under the weight of our bodies. I have to say that there were other
trees here too: Pine, White Ash, Silver
Maple, American Beech, and it smelled old,
like dirt. The boy slid his hand under my shirt
and I sucked in the air, filled
my lungs—fresh, but I stopped him before heavy breathing,
made my hand guide his hand
out into the crisp light of day. I told him
it was too fast, and I didn’t get a second date, never saw him again.
Now I’m sitting here looking at the burn and ruin trying
to breathe like that, but it’s too hard.
I want to give up. I don’t think
there’s a bus coming, but there’s a bird circling above.
-- Erin Carlyle is a poet living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poetry often explores the connections between poverty, place, and girlhood, and can be found in journals such as Tupelo Quarterly, Ruminate, and Prairie Schooner. Her debut full-length collection, Magnolia Canopy Otherworld, is out now on Driftwood Press.