Four feet of dry clay on the bank, the creek’s
thinning skin stretched on rock. May without rain,
a held breath. Almost noon, and Stephanie
sleeping—serotonin uptake inhibitor,
percocet. On her abdomen, a fresh
red half-moon. Inside, scar tissue hardens.
Here by the stream, drought-stunted rushes
and leaves gather what moisture they can,
lax in the mold-treacled air. Low breeze
carries gut sweet manure the half mile
from Venebles’ pasture, his daughter
shoveling piles to the cart, her braided
hair swaying with each thrust and toss.
Gelding and mare shake their manes, feed
on the bales of fresh cured Bermuda.
They must be content. They have their fenced
acres, their bedding. They drink from the dredged
pond’s small cool, lips to gunmetal water.
All their days together. The scalloped mirror
over the hole, red beat and breath beneath.
Robert Lee Kendrick has previously published work in Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, Louisiana Literature, The Cape Rock, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was released in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing. His first full-length collection, What Once Burst With Brilliance, is forthcoming from Iris Press.