Boreal (tick)

Brianna Flavin

I’m watching sun melt in the pan-flat sky,

a spreading oil on the lake. You stop me there

for dinner, the walleye sizzling up

gold, till fork after fork.

We go for an evening dip,

shampoo our hair, drink

the magnet-colored water for luck

or strength of heart, for swallowing dark

as it swims over Canada.

There’s no narcotic, no coffee

to keep awake, no liquor

but the lake, the lake.

Our pupils are widening black seed,

ants at the picnic crawling in

and out of me. Ticks are the cost

of love in tall weeds — I pay it exactly,

conjure smoke from the fire, seep

into our sap. Now the bugs

have us in their mouths, our blood

turned cassis on checkerberries we ate, feel,

distilling in the moss beneath us,

that liquor from the lake.

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