Desperate men do not make patient women.

This town, these years, always living on the edge of something.

Disease, drought, revival, recession.

The woods are musky, dark, but give way softly to water.

Fish and stags float when shot dead.

One year there was no rain; the next, rivers overflowed.

Not a hell mouth or hydrophobic, but even the air here is tainted.

The ice never quite crusts over, babies are left untended, crops go missing.

My wife won’t quit visiting whores.

Recall the rhyme we sang in school:

                    For every evil under the sun,

                     There is a remedy, or there is none.

                       If there be one, try and find it;

                       If there be none, never mind it.

Our hands in a circle clapped for every word;
we thought we’d smash sin like a bug.

It hid inside us, coiled, knowing someday we’d stray.

But who’s to say which sin is ours?
Each time I read your letters, I see things differently.

Why shouldn’t scripture be the same?

Grass caught in our teeth as we laughed, rolling down hills like barrels,
the curves of each mound forgiving but spoken for.

There is no remedy for us—

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VALERIE WETLAUFER is a poet, editor, and educator. She holds a BA in French and MA in Teaching from Bennington College, an MFA in Poetry from Florida State University, and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She is the author of three chapbooks: Scent of Shatter (Grey Book Press 2010), Bad Wife Spankings (Gertrude Press 2011), and Nostrums (Unthinkable Creatures Press 2013).  Her first full length collection, Mysterious Acts by My People (Sibling Rivalry Press 2014) won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Her second book Call Me by My Other Name (Sibling Rivalry Press 2016) was just released. Wetlaufer edits Adrienne: a poetry journal of queer women. She lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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