FOXFIRE | Sarah Bates

I should have known when he sent me

the kissy face. Maybe the point is not to

choose. There is a poem in the desert

and there is a bike in the middle of it.

I can’t see it, but it’s there above the red

cliffs, the blue paint, hunters moving

fast toward primary colors. I still don’t

know what to do with all these bones.

I remember the bee dying one afternoon

in between the lime green cushion

and rotting wood. My friend was there

and I didn’t cry for two days. What

I remember most was you stopping

to pick up the piece of broken kindling

to tell a story of ecosystems, this extinct

fungus glowing on the red rocks. I get so

tired of men asking me for a blowjob

over coffee. I want a helicopter to fly over

and to know that it’s there. I want the bee

to move one of its wings in the middle

of the oil slick and for the blue paint

to scatter. I want to see your grocery lists

in book spines, the desert sky, in knowing

that all things end. I want to be the bike

that is hard for colonists to reach, to be

leaving, always leaving. Months later,

a student writes, muscles are some of

the first organs broken down, and the most

important muscle in the body is the heart.

I should have known that in order to take

from the body, you have to give to the body.

I should have known that I was only building

a small empire to put things on.

Sarah Bates has an MFA in Poetry from Northern Michigan University and currently teaches at Southern Utah University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, 45th Parallel, The Rumpus, Meridian, Best New Poets 2017, American Literary Review, Seneca Review, The Normal School, Rattle, RHINO, and Hotel Amerika, among others.