Lydia Copeland Gwyn
My Fingers Loosen
I strip maple saplings with a hatchet, making the weft for a wattle fence. My fingers loosen and bend and pull. The same fingers that touched the back of your neck the night before, lost in the strawberry birthmark there. I think about you and your shoes by the bed, a cloud of your clothes on the floor. We fell asleep on each other, our bodies damp as runners.
I clear debris from the deck with the leaf blower which is not easy work since it rained the night before. Pollen tendrils stick in the cracks between boards like limp gills. Oak leaves suck onto all the flat surfaces. The forest sheds itself. Swallowed rain swells from leaf lobes like something new from the sky.
All day I work at the edge of the woods, in the drip lines of trees. Peeling the bark green. Snipping nodes. Stacking fingerling trunks into two piles by the chop block. There was a full moon last night and I took a picture of it—orange and grainy through the porch screen. You laughed at how small the light was in the photo. A streetlight. A living room from across the road. It could be anything but probably not the moon. In the morning a blue caterpillar was on my door. The kind that builds tents of silk in the cherry trees. The kind that moves en masse.
By sundown I've laid the first weave in place. The fence I'm building will close a gap in the treeline, adding some distance between me and the farm across the road. But as I work, I keep going back to you and my dark room the night before. The pulse of your throat. The face of a candle. Even the shadow of your lashes.
Lydia Copeland Gwyn's stories and poems have appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Elm Leaves Journal, New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, The Florida Review, Glimmer Train and others. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband, son and daughter.