My dreams are slippery, animal things, and late in these gray mornings they splay on the backs of my eyelids, roadkill. I understand why: the roads in our city are blackened with slush so like a meal I’ve frozen, thawed, let leak its taste into the good ice in my indecision, and the neighborhood weeps for the waste, tears under icicle fringe that could murder me if I leave my home. I am lying again in the unhinged jaws of the lion, who comes in baring sharp and restless teeth. He will feast, and in dreams I unfurl with the weak. I offer him my head for his tongue, my bones and the warm blood of winter that pulses still and needs my stillness. In waking life, I pray for courage to rise and separate the blinds, to look for tender, unscathed things: the greens, the ground threaded deep with roots. I lie down again, near unbudded trees, hear lamb bleats even in imagined fields. A host of dandelions will push through the dirt to the sun, heedless of mowers and children’s hands, and I will know the softness of their heads in bloom, their leaves named for the teeth of beasts who vanish in the wake of what is born.
Emily Kingery teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics at a small university in Iowa. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in multiple journals, and she has been both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a non-profit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community.