Oct/Nov 2019 Spotlight

I'm Sorry for the Animal

by Katherine Tunning

Image courtesy of The British Library photostream

I'm Sorry for the Animal

I have become,
for the startled sound that rises in my throat
now when I am touched.
I'm sorry I am no longer beautiful
or good with children.

The mat is soft with drifts
of bone-wreck and feather
and velvet gray voles.
These dumb and thumbless hands
still twist with the urge to provide.

Imagine a barn, or a shed, something out in the yard
but still with some charm. It could be done:
the distance slack like a leash between us.
You could hold me at arm's length, stroke me
only ever in one direction.

A name is called and I answer to it
with the fervor of obedience:
it is this or the veil of red descending.
I leap and caper and whip my pointed head from side to side.
My legs itch with their new and backward joints.

I have no way to invite you, I have only
the high whistle from over the hills, pitched
just past the limit of your straining ear.

Turn the knob for me
or these sharpened fingers
will find their own way free.


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