Editors' Pick

If I Could Trace Again the Honed, Flat-End Blade

 of my pickaxe, the arc it formed at the crossing
you and I were sent to fix—the road cratered
on both sides of the tracks, wallowed out by trucks
loaded with wheat—

 if I could follow
my pick’s shadow slicing toward your shadow—
dark and wild, gathering weight and speed in the bright
June air—and you oblivious, still shoveling
the red clay I’ve loosened, the trucks’ spilt grain,

 if I could hold again your head,
run my hand over your temple, the blood-damp
seep of carelessness, the thin graze,

 if I could cradle the almost-ruin of it,
the shudder, the cold starlight-by-day of it,

 if I could sling,
once again, my arm over you, walk you to the warehouse
for help—

 if I could measure your walleyed stare,
the quarter-inch by which you were spared—and I, too,
in the back-then that’s ever now and forever—

 would I kneel before the altar of luck,
or something greater?

 

for Reid

 

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