No Longer Two, But One Flesh

Winding north from Knoxville is the message I love you Kim,

on exit signs, mile markers, interstate overpasses: I ♥ Kim.

This is love, when it’s new, coruscating, contained in the body.

I-75 plaits the mountains, sleeps in dangerous, low-lying fog, moseys

by neat, rectangular trailers, with stairs that spill into impeccably green yards.

The cement swans patiently circle the grass. The plastic toads dress in yellow

vests and spats for lunch in the churchyard, and poor black Sambo

hauls the water. Methodical gliders click back and forth, porchsitters

wave to drivers. Wheel of Fortune flashes through the screen doors

until time to open the pill box, until bedtime, until early. The yard swans

nest under bushes, the TV’s off, plastic deer look tentatively toward the road

wondering if it’s safe to guide their young to the water, the Morning Glories

are no longer the purple horn of a Victrola. This is love when someone

forgot to check on it like rising bread, but has figured out what it isn’t.


Still Life with Rusted Out Washing Machine

Scapula like a cased wing. A woodpecker makes 

her nest in the hull of a washing machine 

perched in a dry spring running with tires, bedsprings, 

and an engine block. When she sings she echoes, 

therefore sings more. When she drums a babel of hammers 

fashions a spear. A Madame Curie curling fetal metal.

She is shaped like a scarecrow scaring the crows. She’s

communed with the discarded, done with domestic,

angry monarch of the valley whose song translates as

appetite or lust. Yearning is identical in absence.




No hunting.

No trespassing.

Gospel singing

every Saturday

night. We’re back

to washing cars.



save us.



sing to us.


Out of

the mountain’s

rib we

coax a life.

A lungless


who must exist

in the sorrow

of a creek. 


Rachel Morgan is the Poetry Editor for the North American Review and teaches creative writing at the University of Northern Iowa. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She co-edited Fire Under the Moon: An Anthology of Contemporary Slovene Poetry (Black Dirt Press). Recently her work appears or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Poet Lore, Barrow Street, B O D Y, Mid-American Review, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere.