A Brief History by Erin Carlyle

of the Woods
I am in a dark soft hole.
My mother put me here.
I smell of milk
and cream. My mother lies
on the ground near me.
of stars
It’s on the tip of my tongue,
your new name.
You exchanged me
for another daughter-formed
constellation and past moons
bigger than a family.
Of dogs and other animals
“All dogs die,” he said.
Flattened out on the road,
Or even poisoned by chocolate.
Of sickness and speculation
Vulnerable skin cut down
and across. They peeled you.
I sat on the opposite side
of the room trying to understand
how I could look
just like you. I crossed
my eyes, squinted.
I got up and left.
Of home.
I’ve seen a tree shed its skin,
seen groups of red-winged
black birds in the wetlands,
and around creek beds. I pulled
leaves off a branch to form
a fleeting flower, and whistled
for my puppy to come back.
Of travelling
I slid down the dirt hill
looking for the river. Later
I fell asleep curled up—little
pillbug. You picked
me up and put me to bed.

Erin Carlyle is a poet currently living in Sacramento, California though her roots are in the American South. She holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University, and her work has been featured in literary magazines such as New South, Bateau Press, and Prairie Schooner. Her chapbook, You Spit Hills and My Body, was published in 2015 with Dancing Girl Press. Her debut full-length collection, Magnolia Canopy Otherworld, is out on Driftwood Press.