This Is How We Feed the Animals

First, we name them: Blood-Beasts. Double They.

We sense them shining in our net of nerves.

Countless. Pelted. Their mint-smoke smell, closer

than we thought. This is how we track them

with our bone-dice & witching rods. How we dig

them a hole with the knives of our teeth. Will they

fall in? We wait. But when we look, nothing

has fallen. We throw some hay into the hole

to lure them. We lie down, thinking of their manes.

Soft in the sun. Filling our hands. This is how

we hold them in our minds: their slurred bodies

spring air whining so we can’t make out a word. 

We think they have words. We think they secrete

a liquor from their tongues which is a cure. 

This is how we kissed them once, in a season

of mystery between us. They wouldn’t stay

or eat anything from our hands. Only: some of us

have seen them, hanging their muzzles

over the fence-line. We seem to feel

their breath on our backs at night. This is how

we feel when the egg of sleep will not

break for us: Grief-Marked. Heart-Lost


You died in the pith of August. You left us.
In rageful choke, in dust: you left us.

On your coffin lid: Going Home. A bluebird.
Its plastic banner melting down. You left us

in a welter of bells & holywater. The Word 
of the Lord glazed shut the day. Like air, you left us

to our sweat & our complaints. To our swollen wood-
pulp tongues. Pressed into one car, we U-turned. Left      

the wrong way home. No birds
quickened through the balding pines. You left us

to bleat & blister our way out. My own words 
hung, paint-thick in my chest. Nothing you left us

made sense. Your college of clay cardinals, each bird
a tiny fist of silence.  Is this what’s left of us

without you? Little engine, steel-hulled bird.
I was laughing, still in my pajamas, when you left us      

for the fresh-peeled edge of space. You felt a sword
of light draw down your spine, & then—you left us

honeycombed, here. No words for the quiet slur
of days that have wept through the world since you left us.

And though I’m middle-named for you (Michelle, a word 
for the warlike angel who salts the earth you left us 

digging in) my first name knits a tighter cord:  
Courteney, dark dweller, who waits where you left us.


was born / light girl free girl / each step blessed but

slant / hips tilted at top / of my walk-bones / an old

angle my mother the / same / her mother then / her

mother  the  same / walking / strange to ourselves /

even at night / walking then strange / under southern

pines or a dream / of pines / myself in straight / skirts

even / my  hair cropped darkly / at the neck / on the

night road / whose pines /  whose pines / hook at my

lungs / so I keen & low / for that home-place / blessed /

but blank that land / of trouble mine / or theirs / a

dream of them / in robes & crowns / beside me /  some

my mothers / came up from there / & some / their

bodies sweetgum / stayed / only I  go back / go forth /

light girl crammed / with light / my mothers say / tell

no one here / about us  I tell / no one & their names /

press hard / into my palms / white webs of my palms

folding / somehow / strange to / myself        


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