Listen:


Deployment Day 14

The dragonflies hatched last night,
twin-winged ghosts in porchlight
still world-wet and spinning,
unsure whether to chase the bulb
or wave. So much different from the doe,
cock-eared in riverweed, staring at me
through the glass door. We both stop
and meet each other as statues
of ourselves—her flecked in fear and thirst,
and me dead from another night
of missing you. The ice slips
in the whiskey I am bringing
outside, where earlier woodpeckers
hammered out their rotary numbers
and the sky didn’t know enough
to threaten rain. I stand stupid,
looking at the hushed beast
whose mouth opens to the pond
she wants. And I don’t know then
how to disappear enough
for neither of us to see me,
for one of us to feel safe to take
what we need.

Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

Erin Elizabeth Smith

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Managing Editor of Sundress Publications and The Wardrobe. She is the author of two full-length collections and the editor of two anthologies, Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity and Not Somewhere Else But Here: Contemporary Poems on Women and Place. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review, and Willow Springs, among other. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and teaches in the English Department at the University of Tennessee, where she is also the Jack E. Reese Writer in the Library.