Emily T. Smith

Going off the Birth Control Pill                                
Pittsboro, North Carolina

We worked the season’s sallow daylight burying
garlic, each clove a pearl bicuspid in its trench.
The Lincoln leeks we blanched high on their stalks,
and even I was hardly naked in that land of pigs.
The moons wheeled around—nut, then harvest,

then snow. When the frosts came, I retired to my brittle
particle-board quarters and bedded down
in the dwindling corn crib of my own clean clothes.
I wore the same down vest until I thought my chest
might fuse with its beckoning vacuum.

A diesel flatbed appeared and delivered
load after load of hickory and oak to our damp
clearing. The villagers in canvas chaps descended
with chainsaws, but splitting was our job.
We found the scattered log rounds at dawn,

some already shuddered from their lichen vests
and jiggly with witch’s butter. We fell
into a staggered rhythm of maul and wedge,
and when the afternoon sun wheeled around,
it gilded every invisible particle hung in the air.

I stood panting, my coveralls unbuttoned and stripped
to the waist, steam rising from my forearms. Every pulse
sent a huff of hot air from the neck of my flannel shirt,
and suddenly I was in love with the salted, cured smell of my skin.
Suddenly, I was in chaste love with the whole goddamn world.

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