I. I gave you back my claim on the mining town and the rich vein we once worked, the tumble down from a sluice box that irked you so much, the narrow gauge that opened up to one and all when it ran out at the landing stage beyond the falls. I gave you back oak ties, bully flitches, the hand-hewn crossbeams from which hung hardtack in a burlap bag that, I'd surmise, had burst its seams the last night we lay by the old spur track. II. You gave me back your frown and the most recent responsibility you'd shirked along with something of your renown for having jumped from a cage just before it jerked to a standstill, your wild rampage shot through with silver falderals, the speed of that falling cage and the staidness of our canyon walls. You gave me back lake skies, pulley glitches, gully pitches, the reflected gleams of two tin plates and mugs in the shack, the echoes of love sighs and love screams our canyon walls had already given back.
Excerpted from Maggot by Paul Muldoon. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Paul Muldoon. All rights reserved.