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Rachel

You drove down to Brierfield for the weekend
and almost as soon as you made it into town,
I took your hand and we let the woods eat us up.

I wanted to show you the mossy chimney piles
that marked the graves of the old slave houses,
but the last orange light of the day guttered out

and I got caught up in a tangle of sharp little briers
before I ever got to show you any ruins.
Anyway, you would never have understood

the way clay bricks and involuntary servitude
ring like church bells deep in my chest,
the way rusty nails in the dirt hum hymnals to me,

the way broken pieces of painted porcelain
laid down under a century of poison ivy
remind me of the heart I wanted to give you.

The sun gave up on us before I unthorned myself.
I held your hand and you and I sweated together
into the hot blue swelter of August twilight

and instead of dusty bits of archaeology
I held your face and you pushed me against an oak
and kissed my mouth like it meant something.

In the dim dark heat you told me you hated
the weather down here in Alabama
and I knew even if I hated it too

you’d never stay here and I’d never leave.

— Adam Kamerer


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