Anne Barngrover (Delta Xi, Denison) — Borges Poetry Contest, 1st Place (Selected by Kelly Davio) 02/07/2011
Canopy Road Blues
You just need to feel it, they all said to me,
so I let myself feel it the only way I know how—
A Florida summer turns to a Florida fall the way
colors soften at dusk or after rain. From my deck
the webs of banana spiders break like wine glasses
when swept and scattered, and beneath my window
a chorus of tree frogs croons a lonely Cajun aubade.
This story has a predictable ending. This story
belongs in a sinkhole. There are only so many times
a Southern man leaves in one season, only so many hers—
and hers—he’s shucked from the gulf shore. Tar balls,
he tells me. You’re the oyster. And I know that I’m
the hummingbird moth while everyone yelps hornet!
or butterfly! I’m the kind that rusts in a hurricane; I’ll
haunt egrets after I’m gone. And I’m the cottonmouth
slashing through wild blackberries and doveweed,
the lone ghost bike peddling down a canopy road until
I can shroud myself in kudzu, drape myself in vines,
shrink down to just a leaf or a salamander when it all
becomes too humid, when the constellations itch
like fire ant bites, pressing in far too close from the sky.
If things could just stay where they belong: cicadas
in the crab grass, Spanish moss like sorrow on wire,
his thumb on the button of skin between my hipbone
and thigh. But my bed has become a swamp of rotting
gator tail, my lover, a chupacabra I barely recognize.
All night long I cast off leaves that brown, yellow and red
before my fall. And I feel it. I feel it all the damn time.
Anne is currently an MFA candidate at Florida State University and is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Houston Literary Review, FreightTrain Magazine, Magazine Americana, Full of Crow and Poets for Living Waters among others.