by Kate Kingston
You have always been one to collect things,
fossils, postage stamps, baseball hats, buffalo nickels,
because searching is an art that started shortly after birth
to fill long evenings on the farm when books weren't enough,
and the cows had been milked for the second time in a day.
The long sleeves of flannel shirts hung waiting in your closet
for the day you would leave and move to desert.
You spent years digging coal from Emery County dirt,
so we could live in that house on the edge of Utah,
watch our breath dissipate over the San Rafael.
We lived in silences so long, I dreamed they were tunnels,
and now, I have given up trying to recognize you
in the pale stain of desire, how touch becomes so familiar
the skin expects it and surprise is an element
buried as deep as the bituminous veins of Emery.
My fingers reach for the faint stickiness of cream
that has dried on your skin, but it is your arms I am after,
the thick possibility of being held in summer,
while the cows low and shuffle their restless feet
as their milk comes down. If I called you Beloved
to your face, a curious eye would blink, olive green
and full of trees. Tonight I will tell you
about the bobcat that saunters through my garden
with fur like silver ore, because I believe
there is flannel in all of us. Even now, standing here
at the edge of desert with both feet planted,
I watch the moon lose her tangerine ink, watch her scale
octaves higher as the Bookcliffs blacken,
and her sphere fades to a pale yellow, soft and unobtrusive
as a street lamp breathing phosphorescence.