Sometimes a Rash Refuses to Heal

Four poems by Erin Malone

Sometimes a Rash Refuses to Heal

Cows

Usually they find
their way,
without
the farmer, without
the earnest dog
behind them.
When
they didn’t come
we rang the bell
and when
it was far past time
for milking
we left our places
at the table.
The coffee,
our beds — 
everything grew
cold. We called
the neighbors.
Weeks went by
and while we
waited
we painted the barn
red to attract
attention.
And cleared
the field of stones,
and with them
built a church
to house our grief.
That was before
we knew
it could never
be contained.
The universe
takes its time
as the moths
eat the sky
into our sweaters.

Last Seen

When I was a girl a man in an elevator told me
monkeys pull the cables that move us
floor to floor. He didn’t know

I was connected to my body by a string.
Every night my balloon tangled
in the low forest of sleep

while a bear roared. He pushed the wind
out of his way, one claw snagging my shoulder,
a cave in front of me. To lose the bear
I disappeared into a world so dark

it held only blind things, and the sound

of a hill accumulating nearby.

Movie of the Week

The missing boy’s voice is in the static
on the phone. His family swallows the days,
bloody their heads against glass doors
without remembering. Sometimes a rash
refuses to heal. Sometimes nightmares
leave marks, blackened shells where the eyes were.
With plywood and screws they seal themselves
inside the house. They do their best, as if
they could be saved from the thing by looking
sideways — the ringing not already in them.

Bones in Birds, Weakness in Poetry, Murder in Kansas

Erin Malone is the author of Hover (Tebot Bach Press, 2015) and a chapbook, What Sound Does It Make (Concrete Wolf Press, 2008). She lives in Seattle and is Editor of Poetry Northwest.

About the Author

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