I Walk My Road at Dusk

Julia Bouwsma

The hour of metamorphoses, when people half hope, half fear that a dog will become a wolf
—Jean Genet, “Prisoner of Love”

Now is the hour between: light dances
animal-eyed among the trees. Every bending
branch becomes a torso. Every mouth opens
into another running tooth, woods stripped
naked as a fleeing child—

what leaps the downed logs, what sudden antlers
clatter the brush heap?

I walk to the clear cut—discarded
limbs, silvered softwood. I trace
this trail of quartz crystals, vertebrae—
morsels dropped from a torn pocket and blazed
to bone dust. The road curves toward
and away. The road spines
the stone walls. My feet stumble inside
the ruts my feet have worn.

All I ever wanted was Land: something to press
my fingers into, a flat weight to pin my breath
into the sockets of my hips.

What body doesn’t hide secrets from itself?
I strain to see the path, stones sleeping in the road
like fallen dogs—

the sun drops its animal
rush into my throat, and I call out

to you, the erased, the in-between,
islanders, whose bodies still wear your moment of dusk
as a skin of rusted dirt you cannot
crawl out of, you

touched and turned, tossed by the phantoms
others saw as they gazed from the mainland, the white eye
of the sun falling into the dark mouth where river
meets ocean, as we open the book
of memory again, each page a rupture of self

from self, our otherness a shadow that pitches us into
the blue hour, the true hour from which
there is no escape—the dog rising from its bed of dust
to take the wolf’s heart in its mouth.

Julia headshot BW

Julia Bouwsma’s debut collection, Work by Bloodlight, is forthcoming from Cider Press Review in January 2017. Her poems and reviews appear in Bellingham Review, Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, and others. She lives in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, editor, small-town librarian, and farmer.