Mile Measurement Ends Here

Kate Sweeney
Controlled burns are still legal in some places, smoke so thick
we can't see the mountains until we're between them and  even then
we refuse to acknowledge all of this takes an enormous amount

of forgiveness: the turtle I ran over at the beach, its guts spilled out
all over the asphalt–cooking for the feast of seabird–the 
      stretch of intestine
from road to beak to sky. How a bird stomach can digest a 
      whole fish. How I once

rode a horse with a sway back and regret it. In every relation
      ship there are things
that can't be said. You tell me: write about fire without using
      the word fire.
Some directions are impossible. We cross the Missouri, into
      the high prairie

of the Sioux and I can feel the land ache, attempt to hide itself
and then spread wide in reluctant reception. The way soft
      folds of earth
seem to squeeze and release like a plug pushed into the holy source

of breath. Your letters are the only letters I ever saved. I still
      find them
tucked away in old books, on shelves no one uses, except me.
      As if I knew
I would need them one day but didn't know for what. Eventually
we'll spend less time examining our faults. I don't consider the
      fiction I read
fiction anymore. A black opium poppy grows alone on a farm in
and no one can stop it. You've heard the rumor that the higher
      the elevation,

the better the orgasm. I only mention this to you as an offer.
      When we
are at sea level we walk so close to the ground it ends up swallowing
the best parts of our chest and after you die I want to open you up

and see what happens inside of all of that privacy, hollow out
your skull, sacrifice your brain to the packs of birds in southeastern
Wyoming, where the land stretches so far it bends and you
      can see both

the sunrise and set in the course of a single day. Where I can finally
sit alone, cataloguing everything that bound you together
and quietly stitch your skin into a shroud.

Kate Sweeney has poems in Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, SWWIMM Everyday, The Shore Poetry & other places. She has poems forthcoming from LunchTicket, Variant Lit, & Moria Magazine and Her first chapbook, The Oranges Will Still Grow Without Us, from Ethel in 2022. Kate is Marketing Director for The Adroit Journal.