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Backbone


I
Do you need some help?

II
silence and surety molder as wayfarer wheels
skitter grains of trail— dust gasps for another breath
of air. sun-baked and paint-streaked cars trundle
over dirt roads until they are under nightfall’s arms
and lanterns of stars. heat and hunger hum softly
like sirens, only to be choked when charcoal
ribbons fall over eyes and lose the children
in velvet dreams. until then, the three young ones
clasp sweaty hands, arms wrapped around
each other like flowers on a trellis. her hair ensnared
by the sun’s brush, her boys— tongues caked with thirst—
curled at her feet, she huddles beneath
her silhouette cloak of faint pride.

III
age’s river streaks tracts in her flesh,
his hands are loam-kissed, his gnarled fingers garnished
with dollar dust only to satisfy cracked lips
and cold stomachs. he works to fix the pillars
that support their skeletal bodies as ache spreads
like dusk. time and labor and ragged cardboard
crumples, wrinkles his face.

IV
No, that’s alright. We’re a gittin’ along just fine.
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