Samuel Burt


When I walk without you, toward anywhere,
I pinch needles from lines of pines, windbreaks
at the edges of schoolyards, and rub their bitter spice
into my fingertips. When I hold it to my nose
I close my eyes. Something endless presses close, firm
and clear as glass: cold river wind, split logs
at the foot of a fire, and you,
pulling me in, brushing fallen needles from my thigh
as we woke in a film of sap and secrets left
by twinges of cold rain on naked shoulders.
Today—one year to the day I traced my finger
along the dotted line descending your spine, raw
where each vertebra dug into stone. Our blankets no softer
than the emerald shock of lichen
across the limestone shelf we called a campsite.
Against fossil, even our bones felt fragile.
Charred and spared logs alike shone with rain as dawn
soaked in evergreen. Above us, the pines
muttered all morning, shaking the last of summer
from their fine, brown heads, crows ashed upward
in torn and lazy spirals, fresh sap dripped
down bark as if the trees were blinking away tears,
and there, they caught the first drops of the sunrise
in which our blankets forgot the rain—where we
forgot the shiver of our first waking thoughts.
But the trees kept our shivering, suspended
our every touch in their sun-hardened tears, and gave back
a taste of all we shared in the green glaze
across my thumb and forefinger
where you and I still lie, vivid in morning light,
both of us bruised and delighted at the shameless pleasure
of having given away our morning to each other,
and all we won’t remember to the trees.

Samuel Burt is a poet and artist from Grinnell, Iowa. A 2022 winner of the AWP’s Intro Journals Project, Sam’s work has been featured in Salt Hill, Colorado Review, Ghost City Review, and The Journal. Sam is a recent graduate of BGSU’s poetry MFA and serves as a reader for Palette Poetry. You can find him on Twitter @samburt_burt

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