Liz Ahl

When She Comes Home From Camp

My lover wears a layer of dirt
more like a second skin than a shirt,
a layer of sweat-sealed grime earned
from chopping wood,
from evicting a mouse-ridden mattress
from a rarely-used cabin
and scrubbing away the aftermath,
from helping to haul and boil water,
from helping to keep the fire alive
beneath the blaring supermoon.

She glows through the dirt because
the weekend of skinny dipping and berry picking,
of sharing dinners cooked by women,
in the earthen oven made by women,
of drinking rum around the fire
fueled by good dry wood
chopped by women, a weekend
of silence at the crest of summer

has not merely painted the body I love
with this layer of soot and earth and dust;
it has also scoured something away,
revealing and polishing a layer beneath,
concealed in the day to day—something
wild and delirious in its happy appetites,
sparkling and strange, a little dangerous—
some name of hers I still don't fully know.

Liz Ahl is the author of the poetry collection, Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017), as well as four previous chapbooks of poetry, including A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, which won the 2008 Slapering Hol Chapbook Prize. Her poetry has appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Bloom, Adrienne, Prairie Schooner, Ecotone, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.