Field Guide - Believer Magazine

Field Guide

by Tracy K. Smith
Illustration by Caitlin Foster

Field Guide

Tracy K. Smith
115 Snaps

You were you, but now and then you’d change.
Sometimes your face was some or another his,
And when I stood facing it, your body flinched.
You wanted to be alone—left alone. You waded
Into streets dense with people: women wearing
Book bags, or wooden beads. Girls holding smoke
A moment behind red mouths then pushing it out,
Posing, not breathing it in. You smiled
Like a man who knows how to crack a safe.

When it got to the point where you were only
Him, I had to get out from under it. Sit up
And put my feet on the floor. Haven’t I lived this
Enough times over? It’s morning, but the light’s still dark.
There’s rain in the garden, and a dove repeating
Where? Are? You? It takes awhile, but a voice
Finally answers back. A long phrase. Over
And over. Urgently. Not tiring even after the dove
Seems to be appeased.

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