first published in Kettle Blue Review, issue 4.1, April 2017

In the Town of Battle Dance

The women wear serious boots
and carry their heads like rose-scepters
on taut stems.

They weave their hair in lengthy fishtails,
wind-stroked, shot through
with copper.  

They walk the avenues downhill in the morning,
making ghosts of their men,
toward all the light they cannot see from home.

They dig the fire line deep,
striking shovel and pick
against the bony trove below.

With the dying of the afternoon
they turn back toward the hills, stretch
their calves with each upward stride.

Back to the undying quiet of a porch
where the jacaranda spills its amethysts, where
an umbrella gives no protection from the moon.

All they really want is an hour with no master,
a pool of rosewater, to breathe the night’s 
sweet honeysuckle, peppermint leaves steeping in a pot.

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