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190 | ecotone Chinks Peak greg nicholl —Pocatello, Idaho This morning reporters found a man asphyxiated, the walls of his bedroom peeled back like skin curled and brown. His own skin, untouched. They say the fire burned all night, but only the walls— the smallest flames, so persistent in their burning. Even the hills here bleed beneath the soil. Rumors are the mine on the other side of town was shut down for lack of ore, more profitable for the owner to seal the shaft and entomb the seventeen immigrants below, their lungs heavy with dust. Underground the smell of sagebrush permeated the roots, leaving the workers’ last breaths both sweet and pungent. That night lightning split a tree, engulfed whole fields in flames. Each town has its stories. It has always been this way, their markers buried beneath layers of thickest mud. | 191 Adjusting to the Dark Dusk. I sit on the porch of the cabin. Wool sweater. Scotch. Tomorrow it will snow. But for now—a clear sky. Across the ravine a man beats his wife. I hear them through the pines. She demands he stop. It is three hours to the nearest gas station, four to the nearest town. I want to sneak onto his property, take a shovel to his head. But I can’t. I’m too weak. How easy it would be for him to pull the trigger, take me down with one shot. Then nothing. Quiet now as clouds drop from the mountain and I move inside to build a fire. I’m here to write without distraction. No television. No phone. No man sleeping next to me in bed. At midnight I step outside: I must learn to trust what we think we see when we close our eyes. Down the road a figure moans, crawls from the ditch toward this cabin. She’s locked him outside. Tomorrow it will snow. Tomorrow I will pack and leave. ...


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