Under the toenail, lights. He wants it gone
of course, fungal mess; the bed has grown
its gloom over the months. I’ll prescribe
the usual; pills, painless. Just scribble
it all back to piglet pink—yet—
the lights haunt. Pulse in the night
sky outside Edmonton when I stopped
the car. Got out numb; I’d driven non-stop
from the coast, in hours it would be dawn.
Aurora shivered ghostspeak down,
her lips pale green parted, delivered
what—a cave, a heart? Something to live
by. And I thought (sagely, the ditch, firs,
highway, all that dark place concurred)
to drive on. Hello, industrial park, fire
of morning, tired diners, Canadian Tires,
flax, flax, flax, flax, flax,
hubs tacked on fences, ruined shacks, flocks
of reeling crows, prairie’s fiber, root
and swing, slack of evening, backroad routes
and ruts not taken.
Hello, love. Her door
was open. Loaves of bread, still warm. I dared
to take her in my arms and not let go.
All night we rolled, twisted, writhed, glowed…
until the dawn; I was a body on a bed
knowing this would grow and end.

Barbara Nickel published her Domain collection in 2007.

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