Erin Elizabeth Smith


When autumn goes paprika
and orange, Dot would almost think
herself in Pennsylvania
where the Endless Mountains
were Spanish stew before the brown,
where she lost her mother
to plastic-bottled bourbon,
then the smoky recovery
that follows. Years later,
Dot sits on her front porch
while her neighbor noises
his land with a hand-cranked
weed whacker, her cigarette
butts turning her flower pots gray.
She wants to see herself
differently—the rabbit hutches filled
with the wriggling pink of kittens
consumed, the spot of blood
in a cracked egg, how gin settles
in each triangle glass. She wants
to be happy for the life
she has ruined for no one,
alone here in this quick-shifting heat,
where the season promises
a kind of dying
we all sometimes need.

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length poetry collections, The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011) and The Fear of Being Found, which was rereleased from Zoetic Press in 2016. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including Ecotone, Mid-American, Florida Review, 32 Poems, Willow Springs, Third Coast, and Crab Orchard Review. She also teaches in the English Department at the University of Tennessee where she’s the Jack E. Reese Writer in the Library and serves as the Managing Editor for Sundress Publications and The Wardrobe.