She is almost an absence,
brown velvet neck muscling the soil.
raise the rifle, place crosshairs
on her spine. She is pulsing there
fine electric signals. My heart
quickens and something old opens
me. Midwife to death,
it tells me we are one thing breathing
the telescopic sight. I hold
my breath and pull the trigger.
are shattered. My closed eyes see
nothing, but the skin knows
body is lying in a heap, blood
and air rivering the field into blooms
bone and flesh. I take her
in the dark, the empty weight
than gravity, rooting
us to the earth. The sun will rise
a void, the powdered hoof
prints, the bed of her body,
boots traveling into nowhere,
the place where she was loaded
we drove away, a November
mysticism as if we lifted into air
the field opened up around us,
taking this harvest, this bitter
alchemy, back to its beginnings.
Charleston Market is ripe with bangles:
candles with shells, sand dollar necklaces,
the scallop figurines. But wait on the corner
old women weave their baskets,
listen to the guttural gullah as they laugh,
and beauty becomes a dark thing spiced
over a fire while men sit in frayed chairs,
smoking, singing R & B over the measure of marsh mud.
On James Island sea oats quiver tidal creeks,
crawl the sulfured air, a skiff protrudes
from pluff as if half forming itself from decay.
The world collapses on rising tides.
resonant and hard drifts the moonlit brine.
It is in the knuckles of the old black woman
who knots reeds into shapes, intricate, painful.
pulls a curl straight from the weave in her lap,
drawing something from inside her, shaping
this thing her fingers know better than she can say.
'to gawd," She says. The women shake
their heads at tourists photographing themselves
in stocks outside the old traders' building.