The valley bares its purplish crags
like wine-stained teeth, a throat to swallow us,
so let’s drink first and drink to the gravel pullout
and the pickup’s bed. Even the gnats revel
and shimmy their last for the river, where
surface ripples act out their endless romance
with the cliff, incessant pecked kisses and slaps
that go nowhere, and the late sun staggers on.
It’s vineyards rolling here to Yakima
and the girl I always hardly know is tracing
lazy circles on my thigh with her fingernail.
A few more swigs and even the sky
is half blind. Night arrives with little fuss.
The river becomes invisible, no longer a witness.
Laura Bylenok is the author of Warp, winner of the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize and forthcoming from Truman State University Press, and the hybrid prose chapbook a/0 (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press, 2014). Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Pleiades, North American Review, Guernica, Cimarron Review, and West Branch, among others. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she is also a new media editor for Quarterly West.