My father rings our apple trees with his own urine,
says the scent will scare off starving deer which strip
his low limbs bare at night. His foot is almost healed,
the bones screwed together, re-strung with tendons
from a dead teenager, who was at least alone in his
Camaro as it came apart on 85 near Charlotte.
That could've been you, my father says, how you
used to drive, then remembers I'm less his son already,
the process cumulative, accelerating. He mentions
another trick if piss won't work, will buy a garbage
bag of hair from a salon and cast it through the field.
And I'm thinking of all the haircuts I never wanted,
trimmed always far above brow line, and imagine him
scattering what fell from every forced summer buzz—
hours worth of shears droning at my scalp, a barber
shuffling the checkered floor, one a pervert with his
hand beneath the nylon cape—and how much different
it might have been for me, the other way around,
had I been born a girl but was really a boy, hair blond
and grown long by summer and the heat too much,
begging a five dollar cut, and to run nearly bald across
the ballpark as long as other boys would let me. Deer
still range below the field each night, become their own
loose ring of seasons in this drought-made decade,
and even Lake Jocassee's baring mud except dead center
where no children swim, its turbines slowed and power
dimmed. My father will still limp from living room
to kitchen, kitchen to front door, stooping the gravel
drive to welcome me beyond his own startle and
amazement, whomever steps from my familiar car,
softer now, with rounded face, hips wide as
my mother's, who cannot look at me so very long.
Jordan Rice is the author of Constellarium (Orison Books 2016). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Colorado Review, The Feminist Wire, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, and Witness, among many others. Her poems have also been anthologized in Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume V, Best New Poets 2011, A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, Best of the Web 2009, and Best New Poets 2008.