Jeffrey Alfier’s most recent book, The Shadow Field, was published by Louisiana Literature Journal & Press (2020). Journal credits include Carolina Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Faultline, Hotel Amerika, New York Quarterly, Penn Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Vassar Review. He is the founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.

Woman at Belle River Landing

She stands in the kitchen
wrapped in nothing but a sweat-soiled bra
and rubs liniment into her skin.
Crawfish boil scents the air
with its seafood-on-sale funk
as the day becomes an inventory of shadows.

Her landscaper hands with their stinging cuts
wipe steam splayed over the window
and she thinks of the quantum of thorns and briars
that first arose in Eden, how they were born
of a single sin. She whistles a zydeco tune
she doubts anyone else knows.

Say on the lawn in front of the trailer
the sun-faded figure of Our Lady of Mercy,
palms uplifted like a bowsprit,
offers little to soothe the faultline in her faith.
Say unpaid cable bills means TV static bleeds
through the rooms of the house.

Now the 2 a.m. voice of a nighthawk
breathes a cryptic song through an open window,
its hunger made of darkness. Everyone swears
that bird ain’t native here. Through the glass
she watches it vanish over the ground,
smoke sheeted with moonlight.