Illustration by Anne Le Guern


This evening,
hiking up the hill,
fingers all stickied

with jasmine,
throat all choked
by the scent

of smoke,
I think back
to childhood—

to this state
& its former rainfall,
to the summers

spent submerged
under lakewater:
exchanging breath

back & forth
with another girl
until it was all carbon,

gasping for air
at the surface.
I think back

to my boyhood,
all squirrel
& scamper, tucked

into a truck-tire
& wheeled
down rolling fields.

All those shapes
I drew on my thighs
with shattered glass:

here is the house,
the dog,
the lopsided moon

& stars, thighs
now sun-starved
& still scarred. Back then

I was all animal,
all blackberry-stained
mouth & palms,

smear of red
on blue tile.
Which goes to show

that I have always
been this feral:
all animal, all waking

to inexplicable bruises,
the taste of pennies
dirtying my tongue.

It’s true
that I’ve always wanted
to make a home

beneath this clutter
of trees, all dirty
& dirtied, crossing

acres of wild clover
on my hands
& knees.

Despy Boutris

Despy Boutris has been published in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, AGNI, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she lives in California and serves as editor-in-chief of The West Review.