by Derrick Austin

Propinquity: Horizon of the Thing Witnessed

-after RaMell Ross

The blue-and-white basketball shorts recall the haunches

of a man who once suggested we have sex outside, and he was surprised

by how much I liked it, recklessness as a gold leaf crown,

long denied. I remember the skiffs and shadows under longleaf pines.


And your dreams / smolder with rows of oaks, / naked to their knees, naked as kindling,

song the salvaged sycamore reminds me of, singing it

late in the day while walking my dog through the woods, each word a worry bead.

Heavy the plummeting branch, green-gold, gray shag…


That I’m grateful I’ve never seen a tree, or anything in it, burn—

Propinquity: Horizon of the Thing Witnessed, 2021

RaMell Ross

Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness (BOA Editions, 2021), winner of the 2020 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, 2016) selected by Mary Szybist for the A. Poulin Jr, Poetry Prize. His first chapbook, Black Sand, is recently out from Foundlings Press. Tenderness was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, a Golden Poppy Award, and a Northern California Book Award. He is a 2022-2023 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholar.

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