Catherine Pierce is the author of Animals of Habit (Kent State University Press, 2004), a winner of the Wick Chapbook Competition. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Slate, Smartish Pace, Barrow Street, Mid-American Review, and Bellingham Review. She is currently a PhD candidate/Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Missouri.
—last words of Billy the Kid
Sawdust. Dark rivers winding
through it and his own hand a raft.
This sudden thirst. And a pounding
coming towards him, an animal
bellowing, and something warm
across his throat, feathery
as pollen. He cannot say who
the boots belong to. He thinks,
what a sudden sleep.
He will wake tomorrow
and tell the story of how
he almost vanished. Breakfast
of griddlecakes, fried eggs, steak. Then
he will get on the piebald and steal
the next girl he sees. She will ring
like a silver bell. He will love her
right to water.
Or it is morning already, light
against his eyelids like a blade.
And the girl has come, rosed
and braided, done up like a painting.
She eddies into the bright place.
He holds his breath to follow
under and down.