red-lunged whales whisper in the salt beneath our sleep

give us


the chamber of the heart called dream

it is no longer anyone’s dream


to live here says the woman at the honey stand

her tongue threaded sweet with bees


we too walked

until we could not stop & then we walked here


gathered apples from the muddy leaves

used our last nickels for milk


we sat with her under the cows shimmering

& dying in the summer heat


would you rather be out of luck or out of time

halfway there or halfway through | we who are psalmic


who did once hold welcome

like music in our bones

Melissa Atkinson Mercer is the author of Saint of the Partial Apology (Five Oaks Press, 2017) as well as five poetry chapbooks, including My Own Strange Beast (Porkbelly Press, 2017) and ghost exhibit (forthcoming, Glass Poetry Press). Her work has recently appeared in Bone Bouquet, Blue Earth Review, Storyscape, and others. She currently works and teaches at Lees-McRae College.