Graphic by Joseph Valdez

Come morning, the flies nudge
my body awake, licking up
around my skin, against
my eyes and mouth.
The day begins in a close
fog, cool and rising
from the lake, but soon warms

into something ordinary
and still. I feed the chickens,
the horse. I carry clumps
of hay that catch against my skin
to the bucks, whose large
and hungry bodies press
towards me like something just

about to burst, like a frenzy
of koi fish breaking up
through water, slipping over
each other, gasping for food.
Unbidden, I imagine the mouth

of my lover, warm and softly
toothy, passing over
and over the skin of my ribcage,
drawing blood upwards
towards the surface, and then
him gasping up, mouth
wet and red, smacking
for a glass of water. By now

the sun is truly hot. Unsteady,
I go to fetch the cow
for milking, take hold
of the rope beneath her huge
and sweaty head.
Her skin, too, is tight
across her back. Slowly,

we walk across the field, her tail
flicking at flies, the loose
mist of them hanging low
above the ground, skin-hungry,
humming high and fast.

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