Esperanza’s Lament

by Clay Matthews

Where was it we first forgot the long sounds
of peach orchards in August, or swinging
from the braids of Esperanza’s hair, hounds

howling at the moon, both of us clinging
to that silver mane, the river below
like a promise of the sea and singing,

lapping like a lament. Her hair would grow
on those nights into something forgotten —
the pitchfork, the haystack, the green meadow

that chewed with its mouth open the rotten
tomatoes, the summer’s bones. How the braids
smelt of hickory smoke, coffee, cotton

blossoms on a broken morning. The blade
that cut the ribbons, the water’s cascade.
The ax on the limbs where once the fruit weighed.

CLAY MATTHEWS has published poetry in journals such as The American Poetry ReviewBlack Warrior ReviewKenyon ReviewGulf Coast, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Shore, was recently released from Cooper Dillon Books. His other books are Superfecta (Ghost Road Press), RUNOFF (BlazeVox), and Pretty, Rooster (Cooper Dillon). He teaches at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, and edits poetry for the Tusculum Review.