What Lasts

by Anne Barngrover

ending without warning: bottles

fish-mouthed & darkly gathered,
someone bourbon-drunk to hollering,

the hell’s gone the moon? On wet
days, dogwoods blip white behind

wires, a net of oysters hung to dry.
I teach the difference between affect

& effect, between mud prints on tile
& poison ivy in fur. Even a book

of grammar confuses considerate
& considered. Listen: a man once

left me in a field of burning
cotton. He left me on train tracks

of moss and sand, at the place
where whiskey shrinks to cornmeal,

the moon hides her face against
a wall and healing becomes

a howl—An ancient thing, how even
now my bird of panic flutters

on nights I’m left alone. Teach me
to believe when you say this fear

won’t last. Oh, how I wish I could
learn to be certain: that there’s any

difference between loose and lose,
between a stray and a dog walking

with a caramel apple down a dirt road.
That there’s truth in the breakdown

of body parts in a bed, in how you
tell me that those who hurt us won’t
last but it’s the people who love us
who will—it’s the difference between

being and been. What I know is
that dog wore a broken chain. What

I know lies in the distance while we
sleep: something loving about a train.

 *

Anne Barngrover’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Indiana Review, Nimrod, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Smartish Pace, among others. She will be a PhD candidate in Poetry at the University of Missouri beginning this fall.

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