Lauren Loftis: "Reach"

This work first appeared in Yemassee 22.2.

I tried to make a nightingale a sentry by breaking its neck,

hiding it in the wall, encased in patinaed jewel and silver—

this means I love. This means don’t cry. Listen: spindled

bone like bramble, whistle-dust, molted feathers stroked

to beak. Wood-moss, thread-moss, tongue-leaved gland

moss, listen: breathes and glitters. This must have been a

story: my vocal chords blanched. The juniper berries

overripe, burst open. Ooze of sugar-drip down their plump

bodies, down bark like smoke lines, darkened. There must

be a name for how to swallow. Swallow on the terrycloth,

soaked in wet wind, clothesline festering mold. Undefiled

thistle. Heather. Thyme. A dram of knotweed raw-rooted,

clutched in slumber. Scudded up from the ground.

Lauren Loftis is an MFA candidate at the University of Montana. She has served as an editorial assistant for Copper Canyon Press and as a poetry reader for CutBank. Her poetry is forthcoming from The Boiler.