OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 1

Peyton Prater Stark

the test

 

start with us getting lost in the backtrack. you always walking saying oh it’s this way and me not budging. or sometimes budging. crossing the stream without helping each other. the horse standing there batting an eye, kicking a cricket. explaining the dilemma of the swimmer. how terrible how what we see will seem much easier than what you feel. like a stone. the horse saying it. there will always be a force pushing you horizontally and no one will ever see it.  you moving forward. you saying duh. into the river.  

the test

 

when I step into the clearing you’ve got your fingers in the blood. you poking and the blood setting and me getting all iridescent. bent over a puddle. when I look for a body all I see is the horse pacing the perimeter, eyes at the ground. me calling out with a blood scream. you with your fingers in the air and the horse all it’s a physical expression of alienation. finally making eye contact. when we left it a day ago it was like breaking an orange into segments. like following each footstep away from its source. into the pine forest. that kind of loss.

 

the test

the trail ends and I am standing a few toes in the river. a discount that sounds cute like the horse joining me all-in. this is always happening in our forest. the long delay. there is a tiny boy with a sister wanting something more than the walk to the fishpond. when the movie ends the fish in the pond are belly-up but faking it. put another way, there cannot be two phenomena with the same speed. the same postulate. then one day they walk to the pond and get in and despite the nibbles on their toes they keep walking. and despite the terrible nibbles they creep toward the ever spiraling center. like pennies.

Originally from Denver, Peyton Prater Stark currently lives in Tucson, where she studies poetry and book art at the University of Arizona. She is equal parts writer and teacher. Previous work includes teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts in South Carolina and developing writing workshops for 826 Seattle. Her poems appear in or are forthcoming from Eleven Eleven, Colorado Review, and Forklift, Ohio.