By Kathryn Wilder

February 18, 2019


October light leaks between slats of graying barn wood. A yellow stripe marks Craig's cheek, his shoulder. I taste salt and smell sun on skin and in the hay beneath me that makes our bed in the neighbor’s old hay barn, a place we run to in daylight. We have other places for the night when it’s colder, a bunkhouse already shut up for the winter but not locked. I hear his brothers near the house on the hill where I live with his logging family while I finish high school; they’re roaming the afternoon like the wind in the ponderosas I love like this boy, this man, whose skin touches mine. We think we’re hidden but the wind slips between the long needles of those big trees, slips between hundred-year-old planks of even older trees, and I feel a chill as the boy-man-child slips into me. I watch the yellow light on his cheek on his shoulder move like our hearts like our bodies like the day through October and all I know is this moment, this breath, his skin, my depth; I don’t know, can’t possibly guess, that two Octobers from now he will fall beneath a falling ponderosa, a tree destined to become wood that instead becomes death. That in a daze of drugs I will leave behind the light through the cracks in the barn on his shoulder on his cheek in October and the mountains and rivers and all I have known up till then.

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