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MILE 22—

medicine bow ridge

by lucien darjeun meadows




Over the ridge of  the Medicine Bow          trail dropping into rock I spread

an experiment in exhalation          seeding waves of sweetgrass and cheat

in the changing shape of hands my hands teqayeni I remember as magnolia leaves

first a plush lung                           then veined serration           then unlimbing

there was a boy whose hair filled teqayeni          was I that boy          I see only leaves

there was a molting          take me down, follow me down          my name is Monongahela blue


Mountains like islands in dark-growing clouds          atvli like years I remember

I don’t remember          the horizon indistinct between cloud and sky and I I I

teqayeni open          this body a mirror          shivering images in furious dream

the runner beside me opens into a ricochet of silver          a brazen tunnel

through this summer’s green          child of holler, child of reaching down for root

this ridge grassy in the distance          I keep stumbling on the rocks underfoot


Hush hush hush          let me lay now under blankets until wintercall          wind the sky in blue

body a metronome for breath          bellows for wind          that boy somewhere

hours darkness in skin unleaving           snowflake-thin             this body his body knowing

only what is luminous in a quiver of bone          stone          home          I am alone

left to measure the air          more runners stream by          floating as I crash along

there is no boy          there is no air here             only breath          O O O what


What if  I were to stop          now          stop and dwell in this island          atop this ridge

my home a mountain            around me the Medicine Bow a tessellation of blue

each peak refracting a memory a mind a boy          lifted and pierced by light

the trail folds into thunder          I am dropping into tree          and we are spangled

in the downpour         akaskv and kvnesaskv rolling down my arms        afraid and the day

barely begun          hoping for a courage of breath          a flicker a river now underfoot


Lucien Darjeun Meadows is a writer of English, German, and Cherokee ancestry born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains. An AWP Intro Journals Project winner, Lucien has received fellowships and awards from the Academy of American Poets, American Alliance of Museums, Colorado Creative Industries, National Association for Interpretation, and University of Denver, where he is working toward his PhD.

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