restricted access The First Lines
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15 The First Lines We round the trail bend and there—the scarecrow. Flannel shirt, mud-smeared gloves, a pair of boots worn out by some farmer’s toes: tattered standards of a child’s spook. But the head’s been eaten by club moss, a fern’s hooked fingers unrolling from divot eyes. The skull is lurid with green, dripping from tips of growth. In the cabin where we lodge for the night, someone’s wedged a doll on a shelf, webbed porcelain arms stretched out, hair crushed in a ruffled bonnet. By the blunt lamplight, its fat shadow bulges like a loose trench coat, its satin purse drawn in the dark like a rucksack dragged through mud. I wake at the scream of a barn owl, its throat grating air against the night, my own breath snagged. I feel your skull move against my pillow. Though I know your face well, I can’t recognize you through the dim. My eyes shift focus through dark, find the first traces of lines colonizing your skin. ...


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