AFTER YOU LEFT: LATE SUMMER
A young woman was pleasuring herself
on a pine tree that had fallen across
the narrow river where I went to fish,
straddling the trunk, her feet just breaking
the water, her body leaning forward
with hands pressed into the bark.
White shorts rode up her thighs and bunched
at her crotch as she settled into an uneven rhythm.
I thought of love, and you, my love.
But here, now, I see it—watching her ride the tree,
lifting one hand and then the other to wave
at the sky like a conductor, this quiet expression of pleasure,
this face of surprise. Strange angel—
no matter how much she rocked herself
she would not loosen the tree from its resting place,
she would not set forth down the river,
drifting somewhere new, somewhere east of here.
KELLAM AYRES‘ poems have appeared in New England Review, The Collagist, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. She’s received a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, and is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. She was raised in Ohio and resides in Vermont where she works for the Middlebury College Library.