Blue Juice Sky
Stalled, wing-deep in road-kill, the vulture
stares towards our rushing, flicks away
just as our tires straddle another anonymous carcass.
The bird jerks skyward, his beak packed with flesh, bone.
At the trailhead our doors open, our cold air meets hot.
Temperatures converge and compete for all the dark
pockets of my body. We discuss what won’t fit
into my pack: cook stove, white fuel, tent and pads,
a bladder of wine. I am softer. We know my lungs will
cramp and fill, offering fluid like a pot of strained peas.
The sun is you: everywhere. In moments my skin is moist.
My eyes pound and film. Rock and dirt shimmer like light.
Three hours deep we startle a pack of coatimundi. As each
disappears over the ridge I remember my neighbor in and out
of sight on his roof, his a/c whining with some inefficacy,
his wife at the window, bare breast exposed, the baby clawing
like a soft red lizard. I can’t decide when to care for you. Or how.
Patricia Colleen Murphy founded Superstition Review at Arizona State University, where she teaches creative writing and magazine production. She won the 2019 Press 53 Award for Poetry with her collection Bully Love, published as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection. Her collection Hemming Flames (Utah State University Press) won the 2016 May Swenson Poetry Award, judged by Stephen Dunn, and the 2017 Milt Kessler Poetry Award. A chapter from her memoir-in-progress was published as a chapbook by New Orleans Review. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.