by Amanda Beth Peery


Jungle-blooms unfold shiveringly
out of sun-baked stretches and creases in the streets
where round-hipped women wear second-hand silk dresses
over bodies that have been
worn and worn again.

In the motel, we leave handprints
griming the glass behind factory-weave curtains.
We leave handprints just to leave something
like roamers heading to another country
where I’ve heard the land
is so open it can make a man
soul-sick for a horse.

If we try to walk there, we’ll fall into the swarm of blossoms
tripped by thin tendrils of roots unfurling
before we even reach the edge of town.

If we know just one just god
one cruel god, we too will be worn down
in this rented room with its two bibles beside
a TV remote with rubbed-off buttons
in a broth of stale-conditioned air.

Where the cold knifes in below our collarbones at night
long after the whiskey that’s half melted ice
by the leaf-strewn pool on Friday afternoon—
where the proprietress rasps can you hear the beasts out back—
yowling with pity—

and a guest says, don’t I look like something
in this dress—don’t I feel a new life
churning in me, like a brand new galaxy
where blue stars are sparking up in clusters, even as we speak.
And can you hear the animals out back—howling with glee.
While the jungle blooms unfounded, blooms outward into the desert—