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Greg Nicholl
Outside


My brother wants to show me the trail
he carved into the woods.

Mountain alder hacked away

by the machete he sharpens
every weekend in the garage—

tattooed hands easing the rusted blade
across the flat stone
he pulled from the Dungeness River,

hands disappearing into the current,
glacial melt the color of milk.

Those same hands that gripped my neck
one night as I slept,

and I woke to his body pinned against me,
eyes gorged with heroin.

I avoided empty rooms after that.

I slept with a chair propped against the door.
I began to hate.

On the trail down to the ravine, we do not talk.

This, our common interest:
the forest, its darkest secrets.

I follow to prove to myself

even though we share nothing,
we share this.


(Originally published in Fugue, 2005)