alone like a cabin gutted by fire
until naught but black bones
stand scorched. Ribs of a roof
that used to shelter shed soot
like the antithesis of snow
when the wind blows through.
The kudzu that consumes so much
of the state wraps itself around
the rafters, crawls through
the empty sockets left in the wake
of windows broken by the kids
that explore sites like this as
a sort of rite. But this is not
a haunted place; rather, what’s left
after the ghosts go home. Imagine it
in an auburn hour in late autumn,
when the groundcover crackles
with each step through a litter
of rusted leaves and the air’s gone
dry as a husk. It’s a form of grief,
to stay upright in a state like this.
The want is for those invasive vines
to strangle you back into the earth,
to become corpse covered, in time,
by a small copse of black tupelo
surrounded by red oak. The want is
for all the leaves that died bright
but brittle in their burning to be
rattled loose by the fall winds.
Zackary Medlin is the winner of the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Choice Prize, the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry, and a recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award. He holds an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Utah. His recent work can be found in The Cincinnati Review, Jabberwock Review, Cutbank, and Colorado Review.