I heard the cot’s crisp complaint and the room smelled of her hair. No amount of scrubbing, of scouring the floors, the window panes, could cleanse her. The cot popped again, no weight but the winter bearing down. She was gone, but never gone. Outside, the fields lifted into sleet, the stark sheets shunting all grasses dead and the apple ridge’s blood stalled. If this season’s force quickened her passing, she was never saved. Why, even in this coldness, in the low-clouds scudding eastward, did a light, sharp as a sapphire or star, move visible even at that distance, well beyond the owl’s dusk-fed sight?

WILLIAM WRIGHT is author of seven collections of poetry: four full length books, including Tree Heresies (Mercer University Press, forthcoming in spring 2015), Night Field Anecdote (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011), Bledsoe (Texas Review Press, 2011), and Dark Orchard (Texas Review Press, 2005, winner of the Breakthrough Poetry Prize). Wright’s chapbooks are Sleep Paralysis (Stepping Stones Press, 2012, Winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize, selected by Kwame Dawes), Xylem & Heartwood (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and The Ghost Narratives (Finishing Line). Wright is Series Editor and Volume Co-editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, a multivolume series celebrating contemporary writing of the American South, published by Texas Review Press. Additionally Wright serves as Assistant Editor for Shenandoah, translates German poetry, and is editing three volumes, including Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (with Daniel Cross Turner). Wright won the 2012 Porter Fleming Prize in Literature. Wright has recently published in The Kenyon Review, Oxford American, The Antioch Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review.