I watch yellow wildflowers close at dusk,
ocular-like angles of protection for seed.
Elsewhere, fire and flood and storm. Numb to the counts,
I pick at healed scabs. Time accumulates
like raccoons hoarding trash—come at dusk
to see what shutters at the mouth. When you make
your way here
you crush wildflowers under your boots.
When there are many,
we think nothing of the small losses, don't look back.
I'll start with the air cooling slightly,
then indulge this year as the one I thought would drape a glow on my skin.
Instead, I've given to the highway, blatant swaggerer, its casual crossings.
Lines that never end so we flow, too!
Sirens reverberate the hills most days, howling after.
How many coyotes in a pack? I thought I would have known
to make my small plot would create
a between-body. A form so overlooked it isn't able to be touched.
I thought I couldn't walk up that hill again without an emblem etched on my finger,
but a deer died right in front of me, buzzards swarming.
The summer basil grew back, patchy gargoyles of green.
Nicole Stockburger is the author of Nowhere Beulah (Unicorn Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, The Adroit Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BA in Studio Art and English from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied darkroom photography. Stockburger was a recent fellow at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She lives in the NC foothills near her hometown of Winston-Salem.