Spirit

You’ve felt it shivering its way into your shadows, a
spirit-being so physical that you’d swear it was just beside you, that
feeling like when you turn to see
who’s joined you at the table and find your
cat sitting there, wide-eyed black pupils eclipsing the face. This
almost-physical follows you everywhere,
bumps against the back of your knees,
knocks elbows,
clings to your neck,
piggy-back rides you,
drives the hunger from your body,
swallows your words before you speak them. When you ask your
friends about the spirit, they
smile and remind you that the storm is coming. You ask the
cashier at the grocery store if she can see it, and she gives you a
dazed smile. You’d swear she looks just past you.
Rain is on the way, she tells you as she hands you a receipt.
More than you can afford.
Clouds move over the hills and descend upon your home. The
spirit becomes restless; it
kicks the corners of your soul with
violent rabbit’s legs. The
trees wave their branches in
surrender at the quickening wind,
but they are still beat down.

Sheep Poem 1

I haven’t told you yet, but
cupping that gentle curve of a
ewe’s soft chin is serene. She
waits, feeling your fingers,
knowing to remain at peace;
peace that is
always interrupted by her
quick hooves when she
runs back to the flock–
you are not the only one to
experience impatience.
Whether she was
tolerating your affection,
or otherwise:
you held her;
she let you.

Snake-Oil Salesman

Begone, Snake-Oil Salesman.
My body has lain in the clear running spring
in these very mountains, and has
risen, the effervescence settling over my skin
as scales,
and me now the serpent
from which you stole your oil,
once my oil, all at once my oil.
Beneath my tongue I feel the venom,
I rise again with no limbs, only
belly muscle after belly muscle after belly muscle
writhing in water,
the slide of dense belly
against jagged rocks, soft orchardgrass, a wayward dungbeetle,
I writhe my way to you
and deliver my venom in one thick glob of spit
straight into your eyes.

Lyme

I eat fish eggs raw from the creek, pretend they are
caviar, pick black trumpets from beneath the
spread of toothed oak leaves and–as they
fry up in cast iron, in lard from wild hogs–pretend they are
truffles. I scratch bark from willow trees, imagine that it is
aspirin, steal honey from bees and hope it might replace
antibiotics. My ailments place me among the
animals, and we all suffer in silence. I breathe in time with my solitude.
I imagine that my pounding head beats its blood-aches in
rhythm with my heart, feel the nerves tingle in toes and fingertips like
buzzes of the electric fence, felt vicariously through blades of grass, and
I pretend I am a little lightning storm. The blinding nauseous
pain moves my legs under me, even as they
stiffen with the cold morning dew.
Parasitized along with the foxes and the deer and the mice, evenings around the fire I itch
spiderbites, antbites, beestings, pick embedded ticks out of my flesh and crush them under
rocks, apply honey or salt to the wounds, bandage with cobwebs or mullein leaves. I
drink a hot tea of wild blackberry leaves, mints, pineapple weed. I heat rocks beside the
fire to place beside my sleeping bag at night. I imagine a
time when I won’t hurt all the time, and reality
slips into a dream.