Dear Swamp by Casey Nichols

What you keep I pretend I never sought before.
Foothold traps, this shallow channel, torn white
dress. Landscape rolls by, floating like ancient
peat glaciers. Dear swamp, today my lips are
chewed raw. Which means my eyes can’t find
what they’re looking for. Most old people were
young people once. Waking in the stark light &
never combing their hair. But I can’t find
myself, newborn or timeworn, when there is all
this vastness to search. Some nights my roof
does not show up. I touch myself to Ursa
Major, her spiderglass stars tangle in the sheets.
Dear swamp after you I think I could leave
anyone. After you even windows undo me.
Hands on our holsters, we’re all looking
outward for ourselves. Water moccasins flicker
like a movie hooked on repeat. Its actors never
changing, just street signs in a town homesick
for other towns. Dear swamp, you are vile teeth
& thistle prick. Meadow girl is a danger, &
house girl has too much to explain. This is the
part in the story where the girls get thirsty, put
on the white dress & walk unfettered into you.
When broken open at dusk, you are true as
freshwater. When broken open at dusk, your
marshes reflect my face.
Casey Nichols is an MFA candidate in poetry at Bowling Green State University, where she is a Devine Fellowship finalist. In 2010, she was the winner of the Wick Poetry Undergraduate Competition. Currently, she is an assistant editor for Mid-American Review.