You dream a pair of painted
buntings, which is not an omen;
they overwinter in your yard.
You dream of ice under the auspices
of good air conditioning. The yellow
rat snake among the orchids, the pair
of dead wrens, bodies intact: horrors
easy to hold. You have arrived
at your loneliness as a kind
of achievement; you arrived here to find
the azaleas leggy and inexplicably pink.
The good milk is raw; the wind,
as you remember it, is ragged and raw
cutting a coast more than a thousand
nautical miles north. Mushrooms bloom
at the damp feet of the oak. How long
have you confused the squirrel’s
warning for a bird? Knowing
has never mattered less. Days go
like this: make it to six, or sometimes
through lunch, or the midmorning
nap. To live like this, in increment
is to assume certain steps. For eight
of the twenty-four hours, for eight
of the twelve or so waking hours,
the subtropical sunlight reproaches
you; the golden hour is always
changing leaves, needing new gilding.
Cherry Pickman is the author of Theory of Tides, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship. Her work has appeared in 32 Poems, American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and PEN, among others. A selection of her poems was included in Eight Miami Poets (2015), an anthology published by Jai-Alai Books. She has been shortlisted for the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and her full-length collection Islanders was a semifinalist for the Alice James Award. In June 2017 she received a fellowship from AIRIE (Artists in Residence in the Everglades). Pickman is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program; she lives and works in Miami.