Infertility

I have the same
emotional response to it as
other women.
Nothing so dramatic as a
miscarriage, my
infertility is subtle, masks itself in
bodily quirks like my
urine never having enough LH to
mark the
pee stick in double
pink lines; quirks like
pains at the wrong times, or my
body’s refusal to make an
egg on time, or at all. Quirks like
my already compromised
thyroid under attack again, by my
own body’s hand. Every
invasive procedure, they
stick things inside you in some
sick, consensual form of rape where
you desperately need this
child, and so you endure it.
Every
period like a thousand
deaths of every child I imagined from
infancy to adulthood, a hundred thousand
potential people I might have carried–
all killed in a whirlwind of cramps and a sea of blood.

Sweep the dust back

We sweep the dust back
into the cracks
between old oak floorboards.
Each day I see patterns in their
grains that point to
shapes, this time
rabbits and deer, like
pictographs on stone. One day the
permanent lines traced by
stress or insects
shift themselves like
candle-lit shadows and suddenly I see
two round, empty sockets in my floor.
Now I avoid that place
skip the room altogether most days,
avert my eyes if I have to walk through;
scared of their stare, so much
stronger than my own, so much more.

Belts and Bodies

That year I got to be an expert
at pulling the belts from the pants
of dead white soldiers.
I’d bring home ten, twenty in a night–
the women would divide them by firelight,
see if any would fit the men
or the children in their lives.
The rest they scrapped,
made into bootlaces and purse strings
ties for the shelters and,
when we were starving, stew.
It got to be a hobby of mine
to slip the belts from living mens’ pants,
hand them back with a grin.
It got to where they called me along–
I’d rifle through the pants
then slide the belts off last,
the bodies a comforting presence
the bodies cold and unchanging.
It got to be an intimate dance:
me leaning in close
going through pockets
smelling the meat of them
wondering what the next step might be
after their belts come off–
whether I would undress them fully, and
dance with them, and
who these men were before,
me wondering why they had no place
that they were going to.

Fox in the Henhouse

The sleek thief through tall grass, her
bellyfur wet with night dew. The
moon draws in the clouds, her
yellow teeth emerge from drawn lips.
She breathes in scents,
lets them fall over her tongue like language.
Smells the
reeking from a long ways off, she
soon finds the
chicken house, absent its dogs;
once inside, a sense of settling-
she might have lived here, if fate had said so-
even as she takes the hen from the lowest roost
even as the captured hen begins the death screams-
the other chickens stay silent.

Sheep Poem 2

How many times, then, can I describe the exquisite
warmth of hiding your face in the
thick wool of a full fleece on a finewool sheep, the
silken curls, the
stray piece of dead and dried aster, or the
prickly scourge of bramble. And the fields covered in
thick white frost, so thick you mistake it for snow. The
steam that comes from nostrils that are too much like
yours, the steam that rises from the whole body: you
imagine you see her heat the way it comes off a car’s top in summer–
shimmering mirage-waves. And on your knees,
beside your ewe–for you dictate her failures and
fortunes more than she–face burrowed in the
sweet smell of mutton and lanolin and hay-shit and,
when her cud comes up, acetone. The way the
barn is sweet and warm and dry, and the
sheep flock silent and close. Each day
a new day, each day a
new opportunity to
describe the wooly beasts.