Melissa Holmes: After Alaska

no matter how hard I try, I will never again
curl on a rented couch listening to Leonard Cohen while
deer crush larkspur outside my door

proof:  he carried the grey milk crate of records under one arm when he left

there were bats in the rafters then
rodents with elbows and opposable thumbs,
only blackberry wine dulled the clack of claws on wood.

I tell myself nothing is lost
that the laws of thermodynamics and the lines
on my skin testify to this,
but no haiku can match the spice of nasturtiums between the teeth.

how long before I lose the sound
of elk bellowing like dinosaurs in the dusk
mosquitoes tapping the screens
trout lipping caddis from the surface of the creek?

there was a time when only alpaca wool could
comb the goose bumps back into skin.
years of stew and thick coffee
of books splayed on a bed overnight,
sheets inked blue by morning

now, I cup cherry tomatoes in both palms
their pulp heavy with sugar, skins split from August heat.

fact: even eagles are scavengers

what can be done when instinct insists we claw the trash?
did the birds on the bottom of the fish heap notice
they were drowning in entrails and blood?

from this air conditioned room, I will never
watch a red fox yawn in broad daylight, or see
a brown bear shooed from a smokehouse by both barrels of a shotgun.
I must accept that I may always know the names of more
wildflowers than I’ve seen. when I close my eyes
gentian is just a word.

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