Tail of the Dragon, North Carolina


Where ranges meet, the season
unladders: Autumn redacted, Appalachian forests
 
daggered brown. A corrective,
light; morning, entrails of exhaust— the breath,
missing, restored
 
as drift, as up-scooped palms of mist, the lake brimming its thin
emerald towers. What didn’t fly
 
the shattering—that blur, what even in the swim
of window glass flashed animal through the leaves’
 
jade and liver-spotted screen.
Poplar, oak. And that purr, mechanical,
driven—
 
So many curves in so few miles.
The radio-collared dogs too far out to call in.
 
Unmarkable, the point of entry; exit
 
woven into view—one branch-tangled wing fanned
beneath the head’s dangling; one wind-rifled,
 
canvassed by sky. The eyes, sealed, light as a saint’s
inward turn, prayer the pause before insects
 
worry their way in. Every curve
 
cornered, riding north; every bone bulleted green
with flight, ankle skimming the dashed
white line, angling an angel beyond
 
your place is— steel cages nesting the bed,
the pickup quickened south by that urgent
 
adrenal hollow, where are you, white line crossed over
 
to smoke the body breathes
this season into air, world now a falling and sometimes
 
spread wings.