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The face in the cow pasture,
visible as the sun rose,
shadows outlining cheek and lash,
chin and misshapen ear;
in full day you’re hillock and divot,
camouflaged in plain sight;
we never spoke,
and I kept your secret,
but that late night,
on the way home from a party,
when Joseph Stein
tried to yank my pants off,
his hot breath on my belly,
I ran,
leaped your fence and ran,
behind me he came,
grim of purpose, and I, frightened.

Across you, I ran, the jut of your chin,
the great furrow between your lips,
whispering my apology as I went,
and when the sun peeked above the Earth,
I saw your eyes open,
heard him give a sharp cry behind me,
heard the snap.

I still keep your secret.



David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at jopnquog@gmail.com.
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