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
Whether she was
tolerating your affection,
you held her;
she let you.
Me an armored leviathan, a dinosaur chainmail’d, teeth iron-coated, only the
sagging reptilian drag-belly laid bare slipping over the hardpacked winter dirt;
You a stingless jellyfish bobbing slowly with each moon-pull wave, rice noodle
tentacles below, dome pudding body exposed to air, thinking of heaven;
Me an ancient stone warrior, once-buried in a grave alongside a corpse,
looted and exposed to the elements, moss growing along my sharp nose,
down the ornate curls of my beard, face frozen and fallen away long ago;
You the grey vixen, denning pups in a ruined pagan temple, their mewls among
the ivy grown wild across the crumbling stone, your teats heavy with their milk-life.
the eldest of us
wolves begins to
transform beneath the new moon–
this is not normal,
we have never seen this before,
we are scared–
the eldest, small grey hairs
on her muzzle, grows
erect on two hinds, as if searching the air,
like she may have found the
scent of prey run up a tree, but there is
no prey, and there is
no tree, at least not here.
in our minds, we worry–
which is all we have– and
watch as her fur falls out, like a
hide pulled from its lime soak, and her
back to the skull, her
sockets becoming bug-eyed, her
lips bulging, thinning, drawn in, and the
fur grown long on the head–
a hideous thing.
she faces us with new
fear in her eyes, and us a
newfound hunger of her, but
she turns back and walks
ungracefully towards the village, like a
crook-legged stork, and
leaves us alone in the
dark, moonless forest.
Imagine that they caged the human race:
What would they call us?
Every livestock has its name:
stallion, mare; jack, jenny and hinny
buck, ewe, nanny-doe, hogget and kid
bull, boar, barrow; cock and biddy.
Our keepers be gods, and ours
a farm animal’s lot:
comforted or discomforted at the
whims of a mysterious arbiter.
Abuse and unfairness?
All part of the greater plan.
The man with a prod in his hand
is all-knowing, and the stock
exist only to be a metaphor.
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
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.
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.