That late September evening when the dark things
slipped their buttons, everything in me soured laundry,
heavy and wet, my tires three inches deep
on the side of the road, suckling mud, I went
into the woods, knowing I’d have to

come back, hear you sigh into the phone,
list all the ways I should’ve spun the wheel
to pull myself to solid ground. My shoes
were all wrong, slick soles snagging
on rotted bark, dead leaves

rolling over black beneath my feet. I found
a path, a rain-fat stream, a flat rock next to it
alive with ants. I wanted to wade in, let the water
wash me clean, but it was getting cold. Besides,
I wasn’t in the mood for transformation — sometimes

the woods are just the woods. Instead, I rested
on the rock’s broad back, letting the ants sketch
their drunken maps across the indifferent skin
of my jeans. Shrill of crickets, soft gulp
of the current, an owl’s clarinet.

Later, you came with dry planks, talking about
displacement, the way a thing can move

another thing by filling space, your face
blunt as the moon, that weary, wavering light.