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In Gloaming

Meredith Stafford

Chasing horizon as it sets,  


the tang of autumn  

stings my nose like ginger,  

earth still and benevolent,  

a soft cavity to sink into.  

Like the space a tooth 

used to fill, 

flesh tender and aching:  

sensation whole yet empty.  


Asphalt beneath my feet  

turns to a dark river twining  

through mowed riptides of grass.  

Wrens and robins flit  

between branches, flurries  

of brown leaf-husk wings.  


Two young bucks spar  

in tall grasses, antlers tangled  

between bodies, heads bowed  

in the shape of a heart.  

Their whitetails flick up and down,  

limbs and necks stretching, captured  

in a delicate tango.  


Deer curl around them,  

bodies bathed in sunlight,  

warm and rounded like  

fresh loaves of sourdough,  

twitching an ear towards me  

and then relaxing.  


The bog stench of still water  

stops me,  

conjuring images of fly larvae  

dancing across the muddy surface,  

thin flecks of life breaking  

from rice-grain eggs.  


A quiet embrace of earth: 

the encroaching night sky  

becomes an exhale, soft and slow.  

My heart is tethered by  

umbilical cord certainty  

to the satin breeze, steeped  

in the gray-blue light.  


Lightning bugs pepper the air  

to herald in gloaming  

as clouds fan out  

into a cotton ribcage  

against the pewter sky.  

Two geese cry out in tandem,  

wingspans overlapping,  

carrying one another into the night.  

I am an infant cradled inside its mother,  


floating in utero.  

Spring 2023

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