A story: There was a cow in the road, struck by a semi-- half-moon of carcass and jutting legs, eyes already milky with dust and snow, rolled upward as if tired of this world tilted on its side. We drove through the pink light of the police cruiser, her broken flank blowing steam in the air. Minutes later, a deer sprang onto the road and we hit her, crushed her pelvis--the drama reversed, first consequence, then action--but the doe, not dead, pulled herself with front legs into the ditch. My father went to her, stunned her with a tire iron before cutting her throat, and today I think of the body of St. Francis in the Arizona desert, carved from wood and laid in his casket, lovingly dressed in red and white satin covered in petitions--medals, locks of hair, photos of infants, his head lifted and stroked, the grain of his brow kissed by the penitent. O wooden saint, dry body. I will not be like you, carapace. A chalky shell scooped of its life. I will leave less than this behind me.
I was there at the edge of Never,
of Once Been, bearing the night’s hide
stretched across the night sky,
awake with myself disappointing myself,
armed, legged & torsoed in the bed,
my head occupied by enemy forces,
mind not lost entire, but wandering
off the marked path ill-advisedly. This March
Lucie upped and died, and the funny show
of her smoky-throated world began to fade.
I didn’t know how much of me was made
by her, but now I know that this spooky art
in which we staple a thing
to our best sketch of a thing was done
under her direction, and here I am
at 4 AM, scratching a green pen over a notebook
bound in red leather in October.
It’s too warm for a fire. She’d hate that.
And the cats appear here only as apparitions
I glimpse sleeping in a chair, then
Wohin bist du entschwunden? I wise up,
know their likenesses are only inked
on my shoulder’s skin, their chipped ash poured
in twin cinerary jars downstairs. Gone
is gone, said the goose to the shrunken boy
in the mean-spirited Swedish children’s book
I love. I shouldn’t be writing this
at this age or any other. She mothered
a part of me that needed that, lit
a spirit-lantern to spin shapes inside
my obituary head, even though—
I’m nearly certain now—she’s dead.