Spring brings rains,
body for what’s to
come, come summertime.
Summer comes with
leafy greens and
lean meats to build
strength; you soak up
sun, and work and work and work.
Autumn comes too soon, a
day late and you miss the
color change. Harvest saved:
you eat and eat of squash and
meat, build fat, learn to
relax, at last.
Winter begins quickly, with
shivers and sighs and the
wait for warmer days. The
sun hits low in the sky, and
you wonder if you will ever
What words we unwound
in the shearing this year.
With the grass shorn down,
and the grey days, and the
long-ago baled hay.
Spring hinting at the windows,
the absence of frost and his
I learned to tell weather
by the clouds this year.
The sheep know the weather
by feel, but I’ve yet to
pick up that skill.
The way the flock will
set their backs to the storm,
the saying that a ewe will
choose the worst of it: the
coldest wettest night for her
lambing. It’s true.
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,
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.
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.
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.