by Derold Sligh
I dropped the note
at your feet—hungry mackerel nets
cast into the sea.
You dropped something, I said,
hoping the words would leave
the condensation of a kiss
on your forehead
that evening before you slept.

Last night, you told me
goodnight—but in California,
it was early evening and the silhouettes
of ragged palms loomed over me.
Past my window, the cadence
of the lonely high-heeled footsteps
of my soul.

In Knoxville, you were under
so many blankets—that is all—
the rest of you evades my imagination.
The shadows of foothills menacing
above with so much darkness
that the stars glimmered
like Chicago’s skyline,
and you,
under down and fleece
were as snug as Auburn, Michigan.

you will buzz with sunlight,
and your beauty is a bugle
which resonates all the way
to the Pacific Ocean. My lute strings
are snapped, my lyre strings worn,
but how I wish to celebrate you
like a birthday.

In the library,
I dropped a piece of my heart
at your feet like seed in soil:
four years now; it is has grown
wildly—my love that is, sprouting

and running feral through the hills
of Tennessee, a head of hair
ornamented with thorns and grass
and seed. Mud under its nails.
He sleeps among the lilies
of the foothills. He drinks
from the Tennessee River
off the banks of the Forks of the River.
He gives you a poem,
and he names it after you
as if you are the only thing
he knows.

Derold Sligh is currently faculty at Daegu University in
Daegu, South Korea. He was born and raised in Saginaw,
Michigan. He received an MA from Central Michigan
University and an MFA from San Diego State University.
He was the recipient of the J.L. Carroll Arnett Creative
Writing Award. He was a guest poet at the Theodore
Roethke Memorial where he ran a workshop for African
American fathers and sons. His work has appeared in
American Poetry Journal, Mythium, Konundrum Engine,
and Saw Palm, among other journals.