by Allen M. Weber
Even in his dreams she’d not surrender
herself to him. But sometimes her blouse,
cotton white, would melt away in the rain.
Like her mother, she’d one day race ahead,
change her name, and marry a landed bastard,
before drinking herself to death. Enduring
a mother skunk’s last gesture, she wiped a tear
from her eye and pedaled past her crushed remains.
Beside the potholed road, a killdeer feigned
a damaged wing. Mike stopped to save the kit
left crying in the briars. He smoothed her fur—
black, cleaved by stripes of white—then sheltered her
beneath his shirt. Standing on his pedals, Mike
raced to close the gap she’d opened between them.
He glimpsed her bike, in the shivering grass
at the base of the water tower,
and Mel, climbing rung after rusted rung
into the marbled gray and yellow sky.
Swooning over the view, he’d follow her,
up ladders far more treacherous than this.
At the catwalk, wind rumbled like a train.
Hail pummeled the empty iron reservoir,
an abandoned timpani thrummed for rows
of hard green apples bobbing below.
Mel teetered on the rail—bare feet kicking
electrified air above the chasm.
She cheered the righteous funnel as it turned
her father’s roof to swirling debris. Her hair
whipped Mike’s face as he encircled her waist
to trust the orphaned skunk into her hands.
Allen lives in Hampton, Virginia with his wife and the youngest two of their three sons. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies—most recently in The Fourth River, Stirling Spoon, and the anthology, Changing Harm to Harmony: Bullies and Bystanders Project.