John A. Nieves

Ligatures

     We knew the mossy side of the trees would guide
     us to the cabin, up the long forking path, switching
back hard enough to turn any ankle. The sounds in the pines
were half bird, half mammal, everything blending to become

something new. The brown, stony soil purpled. The tiny
     icicles dripped toward their future. And no one
     but the two of us were seeing this. No one could hold
this night in this place—the thinning hum of a light wind,

the constant scurrying in the underbrush. At the top we dropped
our packs on the porch and didn’t open the door. We slumped
     onto a swing to look back across our path and above.
     The stars were rearranging themselves as if to become

legible. You were already mouthing the words when you slipped
into sleep, but I did not know the alphabet and I did not want
          to wake you.

John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: North American Review, Copper Nickel, 32 Poems, Harvard Review and Massachusetts Review. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is associate professor of English at Salisbury University and an editor of The Shore Poetry. He received his M.A. from University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.