Sex at Noses Creek
Christopher Martin

I remember moss, mud, roots,
silence of flowing silt, the sleeping
bloom of redbuds, trembling
white beech leaves, an understory
awaiting the hosanna of spring.

Green anoles crept leaves and loam,
heard but unseen, their rustling light.
Light filtered through a gray canopy,
settled among ferns and muskrat dens
as we stepped off the narrow horse trail
seeking the creek bank’s shadows, a place
to hide from rangers, hikers, horseback riders
where bark has healed over bullets
in a place men once fled the fire
of an advancing army, dug in, stayed low
along a creek coursing the lonely mountains.

Beside the eroding bank, ripples of water
carrying construction runoff over rocks,
I laid my jacket down on pine needles,
red clay, sand and mica shards. Sheltered there,
we died to each other, arose again from the forest floor.
I remember her skin fair, white as those leaves
the beeches bore above us. I remember
those trees breathing for us both.

I remember this all as we approach Noses Creek again,
spring a little nearer, wisps of crimson beginning
to grace redbud branches. We seek no secret
place in the woods today; rather, I watch her walk
with our son across a footbridge, watch her gather
rocks with him and help him place them in his pockets
as I lean on the bridge rail holding our daughter
who blinks in sunlight. Seeds abide in darkness
below our feet, below blood and soil; we walk
not knowing where they might be, these secrets
of a fragmented forest. I break a bloom
from a broken branch, place it in her hand,
cross the water with her once more.

Previously published, in slightly different form, on the Byron Herbert Reece Society website after being awarded honorable mention in the 2012 Byron Herbert Reece Society Poetry Contest, judged by Valerie Nieman., and will also be appearing in an art exhibition at the dk Gallery in Marietta, GA, alongside a painting by Jennifer Rivera, in February 2013

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