Walker County Rites

By Cheyenne Taylor

One average night you catch yourself 
combing summer’s stour through your hair,

cutting the moon like fruit with a pocketknife.
The night undoes the hooks behind her back

for you, white freckles tossed across her skin.
Before the massless hoots of barred owls hail

you back to camp—your wet, unbaptized body
bruised by testing instinct—you’re convinced

that something’s watching. Fatwood fatigues. 
You loom up to the fire, trusting heat. You say

I sort-of think, and I would like to pray,
and marvel at the coal barge hauling

light between banks. When someone thanks
the Lord for camp potatoes, aluminum foil,

rootstalks spread for tortoises, a mammal howls,
and you want all the earthly knowledges.

You steel yourself with whiskey for the river.
You plant yourself ashore and eat the dirt.


Cheyenne Taylor is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Florida. She received her BA and MA in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Quarterly West, and storySouth, among others, and her reviews have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review.

Featured Art: Flea by Jason Douglas and Wendy Minor

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