Out of the Woods

On the way to water, I think, low
moan, heat too deep for me

to reach. A new noise
from a vent in the paper palace. Before,

I bounce off brick
wall, begging for a change;

the door swings open and unhinges
me to the nail. I heard ssssSMH behind me;

you not ready. As it turns out, ticks,
like cops, have a taste for black blood.

The mosquitos made a meal of me
for weeks—their walking Slurpee.

One stuck his straw in my third eye. I spell
him struck blind. My friends compile lists

of things they never knew, read me
for filth. I say in every language, I don’t have

the answers. They don’t believe me.
I stop buying tickets to the shit

show, but no matter the distance,
the smell is pervasive. In the woods,

I learned baby wolves get high
from the scent of hearts bursting

on their Instagram feeds. Serotonin
is a helluva drug. In the clearing, I strain

to hear the echoes of men whose bodies
drag the forest floor. Unfortunately, all

the witnesses withered seventy winters ago.
Blood is a potent fertilizer.

Copyright © 2018 by Krista Franklin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.