Rosalyn Cowart

These are Please God Days

When she says sacrifice is something she understands,
she means there is no God of courage. He tells her he is crumbling.
He keeps his broken self in his front pocket, fingering it
like a buckeye. Sometimes he holds it in the side of his cheek—

a damp apology. They sledge stakes in the yard and in the bed
and throw themselves against imaginary fences, falling
back into each other like wounded dogs trying to escape
the front yard. These are please God days when flesh is not enough

in the flood. She is languorous in the porcelain tub
when he comes home smelling sad. He takes her wet hand
out of the cloudy water and brushes his lips against her
knuckles. He stays there for a long time, beside the tub

holding her hand. She steps out and stands in front of him,
a puddle forming beneath her naked body. He shudders, has to steady himself.
He can think of nothing better to say so he tells her he loves her.
Think of bad days as long distances, she says. You are a layer

of skin I can’t explain. They drive past cornfields and graves
wanting to take back the ugly things they said. They carry
everything with them, words heavy as wood axes, waiting
for a clearing, for some moment like this one.


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