How many nights I’ve seen You in the machinery
of a dog, tracking the scent
of squirrels through the pines. How many
nights I’ve felt the clicking die
in the mind of a mouse, and blanketed in frost—
have I walked the stone road
the half-mile to the bright barn, and felt figureless
in the wheat. You have never asked me
to live in the streams, and would never let me
stay young in the irises.
You would probe the brain of an ox
chewing cattails and its cud. You would enter
the brain of anyone who believes
he has discovered a new genus of flower
as I ebbed out on the floor in a dream. Each night
I wake dry-mouthed by the black hall,
opening a spigot. At the end
of the hour, as You bore down this tunnel
of sleep, I feel my ghost kneel at the spigots—
I put my hand through my head
trying to place You there.
COLBY COTTON is from Adrian, New York. Currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, his work appears in The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, The Missouri Review Pleiades, and Washington Square. He lives in Oakland, California.