In the Briars

 Colleen McKee



As I walked to Lake Divine, I remembered I'd forgotten

To fill my pockets with rocks. I'm the type who forgets


Nearly everything, except for the things I would like

To forget. I realized I'd left the rocks in the house,


And my keys as well, or rather, I thought I'd no need

For my keys, never intending to return. I know there are stones


By the lake, but nothing you'd want near your skin—

Slimy and smelling of fish. And I'd already weighed


The stones back at home, according to the figures

In anatomy books, weighed against the estimated


Pounds of my lungs, those gleaming

Gray cats, curled up in fear


Round my heart. I felt sorry then,

If not for myself, for my innocent organs,


Who continued to contract and expand

In unceasing devotion to me.


There was nothing in my pocket

But lint. I tossed it in the lake,


Turned round on the path, toward the house

I was now locked out of. I walked


Past Coke cans, clover, briars, old condoms,

There were ticks in my socks


And mosquitoes in the grass.

They rose at each step,


Formed a bright constellation

Of bites at each knee,


So I would remember

I was alive.