C. McAllister Williams

We live in the places that used to be places.
Now, we’re in the crater left

by the excavation, walled in by soot & shipping
pallets. She’s put a bucket under the makeshift

roof to catch all the things that punch
through. I reach down into its liquid & grab

the razor I’ve left there for weeks,
streaks of green & gold. She takes the blade, shaves

my face, scrapes what comes off into the bucket.
I press mud on the spots where she’s cut me.

We render a salve out of rat skin,
boiling it down in a tin can. She soaps

her face, pastes the hair from the bucket
on her cheeks until it takes root & grows.

I rip her shirt clear off, dip my thumb
in the balm, grease a giant swan

on her back. The welts form
a particular blue.

She begins her cocooning, sackcloth & silk,
cardboard & cardamom. I feel my throat

close, feel my eyes go wrong. I lay
myself down in the mud, place

the bucket on my crown.
In this way, we await your arrival.

C. McAllister Williams wrote Neon Augury (Fact-Simile Editions, 2011) and WILLIAM SHATNER (alice blue, 2010). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ostrich Review, Sonora Review, Pinwheel, ILK, and elsewhere. He lives in Milwaukee and serves as poetry editor for cream city review.