South Carolina Apollo
By Kelli Allen
We know for certain that cobblestones accept heat
whether we gallop toward the hut or not. Loving
a woman means dying every day, too, and one season
begs another to wait just long enough for us to feast
ahead of any funeral. When the Chinese man asks
where are the strong men? and we turn away
to collect fans and ice for approaching night,
does this point to a new August leaping closer
to blindness, to rotten southern fog? The mosquito
swell is a potbelly before our skin ever puckers
back from a bite we expect, ignore, accept as common—
the way wisdom used to be worn as shirtsleeves.
Ponds fill first in June and our poles say Sunday
prayer under willows, un-walled, all hymns cricket
sung and paddleboat timed. We rescue the trial
to relive the moments before. Snows come fast
and there is wet cedar to remind us what muscles need,
where rough hands rest on the narrow waist of our beloved.
Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China.
She is the recipient of the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, will arrive from C&R Press April, 2019.