climb, fall, sober-up – Kelli Allen

A wound-dresser is already in the forest, somewhere
achingly green, maybe sleeping in the sticky tree
hollow that still sometimes holds nesting dolls
and eggs, tiny gifts, talismans, objects we know
matter, twin feet in this world and the other.

When you come, under sun, scabs freshly bloomed,
populating your back’s nude surface, announcing
what the branches left when you slid their surfaces
from canopy to ground, I hand you a ticket
for the grove and we leave together, closing
each door behind, certain that another Carthage
burns softer the sooner we arrive near any shore at all.

Much easier if travel were enough to cleanse the liver,
to defecate the past and line dry pellets in row after
row to mark the way toward pastures that reappear

when whites turn yellow again. Catgut makes
the best assurances against scars. It may be
a long trip from dumpster to dock to pines’ edge.
What will you say when I tell you the truth—
that you have ever been the ship in the bottle?

Kelli AllenKelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals/anthologies in the US and internationally. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, arrived from C&R Press March, 2019.