I did not see the moonwashed lake behind our trailer or the yellow finch in the avocado tree. I did not see the fire, the smoke of which we watched from the mustard thistle lawn. I did not see the coyotes eating the dead cattle or the California mouse while it was still alive. I did not see old Tim (all thirty-three and married) wreck on Shell Creek Road with a nineteen year-old passenger in lip gloss and cutoffs, when it was not just ten days before he took me to a baby’s grave on our way back from buying a pack of cigarettes, and me seventeen. The freeze on the vineyard edges. The lizard drinking from the wild pig bleed. The shotgun slug through the throat of a barn owl, hanging by a wing from its owl house.
I saw what happens when girls—who are not supposed to—witness their babies’ faces. I saw the helicopters circling like released seeds, their gondola buckets of water dangling. I saw the cattle troughs dry as the Camatta creekbed and cow bodies bulked in the live oak shade. I saw a peregrine falcon tearing the mouse bones, beak to skull, hunger coagulated around its nares. A flatbed truck with whiskey and paper cups, an empty graveyard with a moon big as a belly. Reservoirs turned to sulfur. Pig hooves charred in the barbecue pit. A fifty-three-year-old owl perched in the left ventricle of my heart.

Sarah McCartt-Jackson, from Lexington, KY, is an MFA student in poetry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and an MA student in folk studies at Western Kentucky University. Her work has received honors from the Academy of American Poets prize at SIUC, Copper Nickel, and Friends of Acadia Journal.