I promise you this mouth of snake
          summer like a gutted country

church house: field rich,
          steeple stunted,
          overgrown with fireweed, pews

broken & picked like teeth. The stained
          glass in your eyes

distorted by a grinning
          gravity. I abrade
          my knuckles on the cinnamon

red bricks of you – what will be
          long left standing.
          Where men

sleep beneath the floor.
          I promise for you this splayed
          watchdog. No need

for a chain
          chewed bedpost.
          No need

for ticking, the pull of blood
          like needle-loyal thread
          through your body.

We start at the end. I promise
          you cradles.
          I promise you coffins.

When we were in the forest of legs,
          when we were children with different
          connotations for wolves,

each finger was a little spine,
          unbroken and accusing. Every time
          we fucked we made an alcove

in the garden, and she so needed
          secrets. A hedge maze – brimming
          with spent, drugged

children – designed with no way out.
          Brother, blood still lines
          my fingernails. I still sleep

under a mobile of tire irons.
          Oh holy night.
          Oh how they ring.

BIO: Caitlin is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program.


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