Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge
Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge

Site Fidelity

by Dennis Etzel Jr.

We survey the grass blades for seeds, for a place
as my arm wraps around you like thicket
because I fear I'll lose you through the sumac and tallgrass
tipsy from the wine of bitter Kansas grapes

while my left hand snags your cocklebur hair
the same way men treat the prairie, you say,
the way men pull at its covers until bare,


so we take turns examining the ground for surface scars,
for what was planted, as if our own bodies-the mark
down my back, the one you have but can't show, and the one
on your hip that the sun sets shadows upon-
as darkness is catching up with the dark that exists,

and you admit you were afraid to come out here
because of coyotes, the animals wild at night,
after I admit I am afraid of night itself,
how it washes the red sky with indigo, with shadows
widening on our faces, on my open arms of hillsides,

and as you trace the backwards question mark
of the lion that only protects the night sky in spring,
you whisper how we are the cardinals
we hear, returning home,

as you close your eyes first, as we slip
into the landscape our lips make
with its tinge of cedar from prairie fires,
the taste of restarting,

of those crimson feathers rising
in rows of birds that migrate back
free, restless, and blazing-





















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