The Moon That Night
Having eaten your head clean off, my cat
drops your plump carcass on the doormat.
Between blood and purple clots, a bit of neck bone
insists on the air. I lean toward this sharpness,
get right up to the vacant white nipple, like milk
that has contested its cream and been deemed “fat-free.”
Transparent like a baby’s fingernail,
the broken column protects dead nerves.
My cat licks her paw and smack! your pudgy mass
jumps, blood escaping into jute threads.
White like the full moon that night I was twelve
and we snuck up the road. He opened his blue jeans and
thrust his blunt eye at me. It was this or nothing,
he said. I wish I’d chosen nothing. Later, the moon
split the road with redwood trees and I relented
to my home. Exhausted, I didn’t even swing my arms
at the bat stealing moths above my head.
I didn’t wake again until you, little mouse
resting in the middle of “welcome,” until my cat
in whose wide green eyes I see myself
leaning from the doorway, and I remember.
Girl in the Woods
She is willing to be blamed, to wait out the dignity the earth restores
when a fern sword springs between her ribs, pushes its way through:
her last gesture. This, the richest soil! In the outer circumstance:
white sandals, a cotton hair tie, a flowered dress, a neat brown ponytail.
She does not have to make excuses—all her failings to produce pleasure
and exactness. Her body has magic left.
It is not a cruelty the way she is taken from herself: the root system forming,
the mosses growing fine denominations. Her neck bent so she is always
looking past a fallen birch trunk toward a duck pond. All these months
the birds have been singing to her, high whistles and twitters right into her ear,
so she might rise glorious from all that sleep and exclaim, ‘where are you
my love?’ Forgiveness is what she does best. Now there is no retort.
Now her eyes look through themselves and settle on the back of her skull
for that deep vision. Her landscape overwhelmed with restless clues,
enough to fill the palms, to fill the eyes with infinite tribulation.
It is herself, unsettled and chilly to approach, yellow tendons pulled taut,
keeping her together. The woods hum around her, ghost woods.
Conversation with the Sculptor
It’s the way my father made a body
out of knots. The sculpted metal heads
with eyes sewn open and ears wired back
grew numerous in my childhood.
Heads perched on pedestals, brain-stems
growing dusty denominations, fascinating lint.
My thinking used up by the greatest thinkers.
Infinite, far beyond me, their metal mouths
forming a logic my father’s pliers clamped
and bent into place.
The past spirals out of me. Static.
I’m no longer pouring out apologies.
I mumble my truce with bones, tendons,
words quick to leave my tongue.
Does he see the doves I keep between
my shoulder blades, almost breaking gray wings
when they burst from my mouth, hell to pay
as they catapult into the sky?
The shadow beneath the red hood
has quit my face. I need his white hiss of teeth
and pink tongue curling against his snout.
I tell him of the lamp-lit windows in the house,
and watch his black shoulders heave away
into the forest. He cuts the path
before me where the sky lays in puddles.
I lower the hood. I am curve, beak, braid.
Not a girl at all. Was there ever room
for childhood? The wind speaks around me;
the trees orchestrate. I lift the hood.
Desire culls me: a journey that will marry me
to his hollow until I am the whole hunger.
Killing the Rabbit: Ars Poetica
You have to hit it on the head with a hammer,
good and hard between the ears. You will think
of hunger, as its tongue preens its wet nose
and its legs buck air and its eyes roll back
into its skull. You have to think of killing
as a kind of weather: you make the fewest incisions
and bleed the body, slipping your hand
into the chest cavity so the innards come free
and the whole skin can be peeled off.
You’ll want to make use of the lean shell
and ignore the gut pile. You won’t mind black flies
buzzing over your work; you are used to critics.
You will want heaven and hell, celestial certainties
that the soul may travel into mercy.
You will think a long time about how the creature
does not cry out.
You will bring the knife into your sleep.
You will hear the cries in your dreaming. You will think
about the tenderness of the killer: hands excavating the cavity,
holding open the animal so our eyes can get in.