Shannon Wagner


He is the bone structure of a season,
relayed to me through the minute vibrations

of his breathing, quickening as we bike
down the gravel of the Perkiomen Trail. Suppose

the trail is a vein in my leg, pumping
a quiet white noise with every pedal-push. Suppose my legs

are fingers running through his auburn beard as his eyes skip
over rock-speckled water, dancing

with the bluet damselflies. We cool our feet
along the bank, mud dotting our toes. Suppose my calloused

feet are the texture of his hands, roughened from years
of fire axe and hose pull, and I hold them, digging

my thumbs into the knots. Suppose those knots are the tangles
in my hair as we bike back up trail. The breeze brushing

my face is his laugh, my laugh
is the cackle of the fire dwindling in the pit while

we sleep beneath a blanket of sweat and dirt.
Suppose that dirt and sweat are my voice caught

between my throat and my diaphragm, a steady, paralytic hum.
That hum is actually his voice, quietly singing with the radio, shifting

gears as the moon glows knowingly, smiles: this is where
we belong, but not where we'll stay. Suppose what I know

can be buried like seeds, and every summer
when I think of him I'll eat the fruit.

Suppose I know nothing: I'll stick to him like a rib.

Originally from Richlandtown, PA, Shannon Wagner currently lives in the Boston area where she's finishing her poetry thesis at Emerson College. She writes poetry reviews for Ploughshares, and her poems have appeared in The Fiddleback and Poet Lore (forthcoming).

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