Bluestone slabs lead out of town. Veined with runners,
fringed in grass, heaved and split by roots—
it could be a remote suburb of Byzantium or the edge
of a more familiar place. We stumble together
over crooked seams, searching for smooth faces
we wore before the way was gray and overgrown.
We pass a mill along a hurried stream, soak and splash, fill
and empty, turn and grind, send up clouds
of dust, shed the husk, gather hearts, and keep walking.
Beside plaited vines on weathered post and wire,
we harvest flasks, swaying depths, expanding spice—our cheeks
color, we fruit like light back onto the trail.
The beat grows louder as we labor across ridges and ravines,
through woods with needled floors, caves
that release water, blood, and flame. Finally we sleep
in a tangled glade deep in the belly of a drum,
grow younger suspended on flat-wound strings—feet
swinging in time. At last a voice says breathe.
~ Leslie L. Nielsen
Originally from Seville, Ohio, Leslie L. Nielsen immigrated to Denmark in 2013 where she continues editorial work for Poets’ Quarterly and River Teeth Journal. Her poems have appeared in r.kv.r.y. and Literary Mama. She holds an MA in English Literature and an MFA in Poetry, teaches writing, leads creativity workshops, and occasionally blogs.