Ptarmigan Point
Sara Fetherolf
Love makes me follow procedure: put down
the packs, separate 20 feet,
	crouch, wait.

(If one is struck, others will be able to treat.)

In the dry dark under
my chest, beetles kick
	dust from their holes.

And I remember the habits of lightning,

how it came for the cornfield next door when I was eight.
The whole house shook, trying to get the sound off its back.
The basement so quiet and no walls. The rooms above waiting.

	Scrub and buttercup, rock 
		eyeball, exposure, cairn-marked
			sand paths miles in all
				directions, in these flats
above treeline weather changes fast—

							—saddleless, spike-furred—
							I wish
we could at least lie together, I call.

I'm cold. There are other procedures: how to restart
a heart. I rehearse in my head the old lesson
on the waxed cafeteria floor, the plastic man with its rising chest, lips apart.
	Hail starts
 	steadies, slams— 

we are
	in the cloud—I call
		his name again the scape's
		gone—my hair's up—it
			breathes us
			—ozone hum—prickle—
			its ribs contract and heave,

			and I pray because I know how,
			say the word Goddess like a sucking stone
			to busy my mouth
		—but where did I learn that?—it must've been

in the bakery that summer
when before 
light among the loaves I'd drop
to my knees in the flour and sesame
	—dust rose up—
and crack in half repeating
		Goddess Goddess Goddess please please please

and the air shifts.
	What is it?—not me—not love—no named thing—not memory—barely a break
		in cloud, a slim ray
			that taps me on the head, and what is it says
time to go
			in my own voice—and what
				flickering storm candle of a woman
					leads the way
					down into tundra, where the elk watch
						us pass, knowing we're safe?

Sara Fetherolf was born in California, raised in the Midwest, came of age in the backwoods of New Jersey, and lives in Brooklyn these days. She holds an MFA degree from Hunter College, where she also teaches. Her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Emrys Journal, Madcap, Red Paint Hill and Heron Tree, among others.

more by Sara Fetherolf:
Cross Plains