RURAL GOTHIC | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Wheat field. Courtesy of Javier/flickr.

Loneliness thick as the fields of wheat. Wheat I walk through
daily, scent of heat and silt. It shimmers in the breeze,
the sun unfurling over the hills. I stand at the edge,
cupping my mouth around someone’s name. A cloud of gnats
makes chaos of the August air. We need a word for this:
feeling far from home when you’re right there.
And what is to miss but a catch in the throat, the scent
of spoiled fruit, the highway beckoning like larksong. The fall
from the oak that fractured my arm. Once, out walking, 
I found the grass scattered with lamb bones, picked clean 
and bleached white, the ribcage curved like a ship’s hull.
I want to learn to be open like the lake, to wet the freckle
on someone’s jaw. I want to be wilderness, the sound of my shoes
trampling weeds and sprigs of straw. Scent of earth and wheat.
Crows lounge on telephone wires. I lick the sweat
from my upper lip. I’ll call it salt. Something snaps underfoot.
A field mouse’s skull. I’ll call it rock, not bone.

Despy Boutris teaches at the University of Houston and serves as editor-in-chief of The West Review. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, American Poetry Review, AGNI, and elsewhere.
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