I once stepped over a fire and felt my hair curl into ash.

I walked into the ocean
and shells polished me smooth—

tumbled clean.

I told a man I loved him, but I’ve lost those words now—

they live in the sky, where electricity hums
in invisible currents.

telephone poles call out to one another
          from their tall perches.
          on the sides of foothills, beside

dried rivers and yawning dams
that swallow them.

what do I know about choking a river until it stops flowing, of stopping
a burn before it crawls across my body?

it cools on the shore.

let’s not use these words.
           wind distresses tail and mane. his touch

is urgent. the oranges are ripening.

Cover art: “S Curve” by Sean Riley

Sara Ryan

Sara Ryan is the author of I Thought There Would Be More Wolves (University of Alaska Press), as well as the chapbooks Never Leave the Foot of an Animal Unskinned (Porkbelly Press) and Excellent Evidence of Human Activity (The Cupboard Pamphlet). In 2018, she won Grist's Pro Forma Contest and Cutbank's Big Sky, Small Prose Contest. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Brevity, Kenyon Review, Diode, EcoTheo, and others. She earned her doctorate from Texas Tech University and is now an Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Wesleyan University.