Jacques Rancourt


In that endless season of dead grass and rot,

I stood in a tree and named the cows

in the field beside my house

after brands of sodas. I’d go to Jeb’s


when his mother was out

and we’d wear her silk nightgowns.

Basketball boobs, stitches stretched,

we lip-synced as Celine and Whitney,


dancing breast to breast, a distance

we couldn’t close. Our hands

at the chorus—You were history

with the slamming of the door—reached


for our chests, each other’s chests,

the floor. The gowns we discarded

on the table, the sky purpling

past dusk. When he asked me to stay


because his mother wasn’t home yet

he understood the looming weight

of the world, unlike me who flapped

through my childhood carelessly


as a flag. How could I know

his father raped him? I left him there,

biking home in the rising dark,

and because I had no language


for the wind I couldn’t see, I spent hours

in that tree naming all the cows

7-Up, Mountain Dew, Royal Crown,

Moxie, Sprite, Orange Crush.



“History” is from Novena (Pleiades Press, 2017).