In the City We Sleep


Marlot, the girl who rents a room
from Anna in Elk Valley,

heals horses for a living
She can diagnose a sick horse

from miles away
Put the phone up to her face,

she says into the receiver
Let me hear her breathe


Anna’s horses have pop star names:
Fancy, Nova, Gemma, Star

I watch Marlot wedge her shoulder
into Gemma’s flank, wipe snow

from her mitt and lift the foreleg—
How do you know where she hurts?

That’s easy, the horse will show you
where to touch, where not to touch

I am a city girl
with silly questions

A lot of things seem silly out here
like my job sending emails,

the words I spoke before I left
Should certain words

be kept to oneself?
Probably most words

should be fully felt but never said
Gemma drifts noiselessly along the fence,

leaving behind wet clouds
of her generous breath


Marlot owns two black Angus cows
They don’t have names—I mean

she did not think to name them
In March she will slaughter one

and with the money
she will buy two more

It is so simple and so
violent to earn a living


A ranch dog
is my ideal companion

Good dog, Toad!
Toad the dog!

Toad slides over snow
with amphibian grace

I want him to sleep on my bed
but Anna says he is an outside dog

I invite him up anyway
Why do I ruin everything?


Tractor, sky, barn—
each thing has its own name here

Except for the cows
and the elk who travel like secrets

through the bare trunks of trees


You pick me up at the airport
in our small car

I kick its puny tires
everyone in Elk Valley drives a truck, I explain

On the way home we are shy
from spending one week apart

The city is expensive, we agree
How can we build a life here?

I tell you about Marlot, about her tools
that ride in her truck bed

About her multiplying cows,
her phone calls with horses

In bed I turn your sweet face to mine
We list the names

of the friends we like most,
our favorite game

I want to be strong for you
I want to help my cow give birth,

pull the wet calf from her belly
and say It was only a day’s work

I want to know where you hurt
and where you are open

Bodies are real in Elk Valley
Bodies are hard and bright against the snow


Megan Fennya Jones is a poet from Vancouver, Canada. Her chapbook, Normal Women, is published by Rahila’s Ghost Press. She is currently at work on a full-length collection.