Beneath The Pepper Trees

We sank beneath the pepper trees,
full of lust and dustbowl sadness
he’s just a boy from town,
could have been anybody
with swagger and words.

He touches my scars
but can’t look me in the eyes
and when each breath
is shorter than the last
he whispers,
What if we get caught?

So I go faster,
past it all
and he forgets to speak,
his eyes making
lazy turns in the sky.

When we’re done
he tells me of his life,
so I nod at his words
and shake at his god,
so unlike my own,
all savage and undone.

When he tells me he loves me,
I just hold him close.

It’s dark when we close our eyes,
his marks still fresh on my body
but by morning he is gone,
off onto the freeway
and on into obscurity.

His marks are gone too,
but not his god and not the night
they follow me close all the way home,
back to the reeds and shallows
on the black water,
where the sumac grows wild.


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