POETRY December 1, 2023

On Hill Avenue in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Here, mist spits our shoulders sweaty as we trudge

the hill toward the house. Wet grocery bags slide down

forearms and we swing-bag across the chicken-shit tracks,

toward bees lapping at honeysuckles twisted between chain-link,

bound so tight to metal you can’t thumb what’s left of pink honey

loose. I want to know the urgency of loving a place hard enough

to accept my return to it, like how the crows always doddle back

toward the flesh they want, bellying up to old raccoon meat

in the curb’s crook, sucking on it, satisfied. Here, you could say,

let’s stay, let’s linger for a while, like the slant-side of the road

that dissolves into yellow grass and gravel, but even it hurries us

to the other side, forces a rush over the road, and delivers sidewalk.

Here, we dodge the patch kinked in the tracks, rogue spoke-teeth

needling for rubber, where, between the metal gaps of the track,

flies churn beside our ankles in search of that distant souring clump.

Near, the suspect tree bends to the street, green limbs pray, there

in the lot where the old slat-house was demolished after the crime.

In the distance, our gray house pales in front of a pulped sun,

and we stop at the tree to pluck it, to fill our bags with figs,

delighted in the heaviness of free fruit—and eventually,

we’ll reach home, cut them open, and find bugs inside.

Elizabeth Muscari is a poet living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Arkansas. Her poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Booth, The Texas Review, Nashville Review, Muzzle Magazine, Waccamaw, among others. Her poetry has been awarded the 2022 Felix Christopher McKean Poetry Award, the 2023 Walton Fellowship, and the 2023 John and Shirley Holmes Award for Creative Nonfiction. Social Media: X: @elizmuscari, IG: @elizabethmuscari, Bluesky: @elizmuscari.bsky.social