Volume 68, Number 2 · Spring 2019

Before the Fall

I have sat today on my porch becoming another soft and malleable
extension of my small front yard. I have watched endlessly as the spring

cankerworms list down from the trees where they hatched, propelled
by the expulsion of their own silk. I have seen most reach the ground

but some stop midair as if inside them there were a spool that had hit
its limit, and couldn’t take them any farther. I have seen their bodies,

bright as only green can be in spring, wrench and buckle
against the breeze, which might barely sway the grass. I have seen

across someone else’s yard and past our street into a bulldog’s fenced arena
where it barked and barked at a young man passing until he, too, halted

and raised a brick above his head—for a long time, he was aiming—
which he then threw. I wonder if there was an order

I could have given to divert his attention, though in the end
he missed the dog and lost the brick and so continued on his walk.

The natural order would have been Stop but instead I gasped, wanting
to fortify just myself against what might happen next.

D. M. Spratley is a Black, queer, Southern writer. She received her MFA from Hollins University. Her poems appear in Rattle and Drunken Boat, and she has received awards from Princeton University and Rattle. These poems belong to a completed chapbook manuscript, entitled Bloodroot. Find her on Twitter @dmsprat.