Two Poems

by Julie King

"Natural History" and "After Losing a Lover"

Julie King has an M.A. in creative writing and teaches at University of Wisconsin, Parkside.
She is working on a book of short fiction, most of the stories taking place
in the Southwest where she really wants to live.

Natural History

Study the origin of us.
You, prone to sinus infections,
wore a coat too heavy
for the weather. You carried
a shotgun and a jackrabbit,
swinging it like a lantern.
I was attracted to your silhouette,
the illusion of bulk and light.

So here we are. Study the evolution
of us. I sit on the porch, swinging
a bottle of Cuervo, watching phoenix
skip across the mesa, too quick
for their little bones. You wear
the tattered coat, cough phlegm
hot as chili peppers, slap
a rabbit on the cutting board.

What do you make of this study,
the interrelationship of organisms,
our own natural history? You gut
the rabbit with one slice, sure
of the precision of the knife,
the thick blood of the kill.

After Losing a Lover

At any library, she ponders
outdated encyclopedias, and,
randomly, opens an "I." India.
She thinks it's India she wants,
a heat that will shrink her
skin until each bone takes shape.

A map. Her finger, fat
with health, traces along
the Ganges, and she chants cities
like a mantra. Allahabad. Benares.
Patna. Bathing, praying, scattering
of ashes; the river has it all.

A beggar, wrapped in rags, a naked
ascetic, eyes clear and sure, a covered
woman balancing a jug atop her head.
Those appeal to her, not plump arms
jangling bracelets, saris in sapphire
or ruby, hair smoothed by jasmine oils.

She wants what's really her,
neutrality of bones, skin, sinew,
and sweat. Not the betrayal
of breasts, their curves a possibility
of lust. Not the betrayal of monthly
blood, its scent a promise of birth.

First appeared in Puerto del Sol Winter 1993

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