|Apr/May 2004 • Poetry|
I know this of horse-toothed women:
they are very often not
like horses. And if you find one
with mercurial eyes and froth
between her legs, you can be sure
the big sky will not burst open,
the darkening sky will not roll over the earth.
And I know this of heavy-hoofed men
with their volant manes and barrel-chests:
they do not know the wind. And if one starts
to stomp and snort, to kick the dirt,
it is probably just a small anger that will pass—
the herds are not coming, their thick tongues
are not rising in their throats.
And I know this of the coltish children:
although they buck like ponies, they will lose
their frisk—they are only wild for a moment.
Even now their blood is slowing to a dull trot,
their knees will buckle under the whip.
So go cry now:
you are not a horse.
Something like Beauty
I have already asked the floorboards,
the attic and the basement trunk.
Their mouths open only once,
slow as fossils, as cobwebs in the barn,
and then they shut, and I ask the darkness,
the lock, the junkyard filled with dogs
and bones, the stomachs filled with turning worms
and the leaves as they close their hands. I ask beneath
the roads, the skins stretched over cages
and the small wings vibrating inside.
There's no desperate search, everything answers
and answers again—there, under fish underwater,
under the books you never read and under
the boxes of forgotten things, under the flakes
of paint you picked from the wall for hours
in the afternoon, alone in the house, unbathed,
under the clock and the apple peels, under ashes
in the toilet bowl and under the cat curled underground
under the tree under the ledge of the window
you never open and never walk by and the shovel
still leaning in the same spot in the garage for twelve years,
next to the old lanterns that have always been there.
But I ask again because I need to hear it from that last walk
we took across the field, how the corn never ended
because we weren't thinking about endings,
we weren't thinking, and I've never seen an owl
so close again. Remember the grass and the walking sticks
we found, smooth as antlers, as driftwood?
We left them there in the field against a fence
we crawled under without thinking we were crossing
onto someone else's land. I need to hear it from someone else's land
because I've never been here before, and it still doesn't end.
Yes, yes, yes—everything answers, and I ask again.