Because you’re free from work, you walk to the edge of the woods at sundown, shoes scraping against your blistered toes, passing the fertile fruit trees on your left. You vowed to your family that you were out with friends, but, really, you just need a night to recover the girl you lost: yourself. & you search behind trees, under bushes, in the wildflowers growing in the grass. You think about your brother living miles away: his worn jeans, the scent of his sweat, his hand tousling your hair. You think about his high school baseball jersey in the bag under your bed—how it still smells like him: all dirt & detergent. & now your fingers graze the creek & it’s as if you’re touching his callused hand, cold with winter. & then it feels like you’re touching your own hand, holding it & vowing It’ll all be okay. You’ll remember who you were before it all fell apart, when these woods were just woods & not some haunted place you call home. When home was really that house with a white picket fence, faded yellow exterior, two pick-up trucks out front, citrus trees in the yard. Though you hate it, that is home & where you head now: back to your bed with sheets blue as this dusklight. You walk in the center of the road, streetlights bright as the girl’s eyes boring into you as you unzipped her jeans, the slow sound of its unclenching teeth. No, they’re bright as this ball of fire that still burns somewhere inside you. No, as the wide-eyed moon.

DESPY BOUTRIS is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Southern Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston, works as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.