Selections from From This Distance

WOLFWORDSFrom This Distance

 

We eat your precious kids,
hide slobbering in your beds

all day, tricked out in drag,
counting our tender victims by the bag.

The white flank, the red orifice
we know like lovers:  that sweet piece

Red-Cap and her sour granny
licked with flattery like honey:

goatlets, yellow
and bony, we can swallow

six at a gulp.  The maw
is our mind and mindfulness the law

which governs appetite
and ghosts whole villages overnight.

For these imagined crimes, you will sew stones
in our guts.  Our moans

will be your nightmusic, our white coats
will ruffle on the backs of Sybarites.

O You
who speak words and know they are not true,

we have no use
for the bodies you worship and abuse.

Your hamstrung arms
and legs, your heads full of dreams,

brooding and hopeless in your sleep:
what would we do with them?  You are like sheep,

you are like pigs
in houses made of jewelry and twigs,

the stuff of nightmare fires.  We watch you run
inside.  We turn our backs.
The sun

behind us makes our shapes
long and black on the long white steppes,

we travel slowly.  It is true
that when we sleep we dream of you,

but not as you surmise.
We are as sad as you are, twice as wise.

The way
we know is with our blood, for blood can say

what men will try
with beasts they carry in their memory.

Suffer, evolve, and fail.
Your fur, the extra teeth, the little tail

are almost gone.  This is your curse:
that what is left also belongs to us.

 

 

ELEGY FOR SARAH

 

Dickinson wrote to a preacher
about Ben Newton,
wanting to know how it was at the end,
if he had seen a passage
to another world
not forbidden to her.

"Called back" her last words,
disputed by theologians.
Did she realize, as she walked
out of the end of her life,
that she had always been walking back
toward her own calling voice?

And that when she arrived
at the hour, it would be
like sitting under a tree
whose yellow leaves would fall
perfect, one by one,
until her lap was full?

When you died
there was an hour left of daylight,
pink and yellow in the summer haze.
I was driving west,
passing a slow truck,
my life mute and peaceable as water.

What did I expect?
You would have said
that is it, the lifting of a curtain,
a leaf dropping from the jade plant.
I am writing
as if you were here to agree,

as if you were here to say
what do you want to happen;
what is your mind for
if it cannot occupy itself
as if furnishing a room
with fine, perishable things?

 

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