At Twenty

He glides through the woods, trusting
his legs to guide him down any path.
Wind crackles through the leaves
like applause a mile away.

He rides his motorcycle to any field
he wants, sleeps on the hard ground.
He wakes every morning limber as a weed.
He hasn’t yet hurt a woman.

Each night he eats supper alone, rinses
his cup and plate, watches the water
swirl the drain. He can’t understand loneliness,
can’t understand how love halves a man.

He is still his fourth grade science project,
the papier-mâché volcano. And when he meets
a willing woman, he’ll pour her into himself,
erupting until all that was once in him is gone.

Sara Hughes earned a PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2014. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the 2015 Best of the Net Anthology, and the 2015 Independent Best American Poetry award. She has published in dozens of journals, including Rattle, Reed, Rosebud, TAB, Atlanta Review, Southern Women’s Review, Review Americana, The Oklahoma Review, and Atticus Review, among others. Sara has also received writing fellowships from I-Park Foundation and The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She teaches literature and writing at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia.

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