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Nina Puro

All winter the girls roll tobacco leaves to smoke,
curl in the cab of the pickup
to look for the moon in the bottom of a bottle.
Their breath glazes the panes, steams into cotton
to match what spills with the springs from the ripped seat.
Their voices the slurred fall of a handful of nickels.
The slurring of choices into a singularity:
the baggie lying on a glazed blue saucer with chipped edges.

A hank of hair yanked back, a throat exposed.
In the trailer, the kitchen light stays on all night.

They don’t know yet how sick they are
or how far better will be: the fall inside of struts,
the sulfured flare to tinder of such fine white bones,
how fast and quiet a grease fire blooms.

One girl sets bowls of water outside: to catch what little
light there is. To let freeze over, to let melt in morning
to drink when the chills set in.

As spring edges closer, the girls practice a fierce kind of arrest:
to stop time by crushing rust to powder.
They blacken the edges of their eyes
as a way of marking their own lintels, as a way
to match the blackness of the maples against snow.
The frozen tire tracks soften to mud.

The tracks in their arms harden. They learn
to pay the rent by turning their eyes to fists
grasping at men in the VFW parking lot.
Skins turn to fish scales slipping past the sheriff’s cruiser
while takeout containers ghost across the yard.