Death comes in the mouths of creatures
leaving curls of flesh scattered,
bright against the ragged bank.
They chew into the years, hew
smooth curves by small bites,
nightly the gape gnawed wider.
Winter-bare and now this exposure—
you stand rooted, unable to run.
One trunk moss-grown,
lichen-tufted, then four more
scarred, but not yet fallen
into the creek running low.
How much louder the sun
will beat its heat drum in July.
How much harder, without you.
Copyright 2016, Joannie Stangeland
Joannie Stangeland’s poems have recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review, Comstock Review, and Pinyon.