I am working on a specimen so pale it is like staring at snow from the bow of a ship in fog. I lose track of things—articulation of wing, fineness of hair—as if the moth itself disappears, but remains as an emptiness before me. Or, from its bleakness, the subtlest distinctions suddenly increase: the slightest shade lighter in white begins to breathe with a starkness that’s arresting and the very idea of color terrifies. It has snowed and the evening is blue. The herders look like buoys, like waders the water has gotten too deep around. They’ll have to swim in to shore. Their horses are patient. They love to be led from their stalls. They love to sharpen their teeth on the gate. They will stand, knees locked, for hours.
This Is Our American America Here Is Our Son
We bring the world to bed with us,
its weather, its moving maps,
and its wars. When the staff told
the grieving chimp, tomorrow
they’d bring her a baby, she understood
her baby, the one three years ago
whisked inexplicably away,
not any baby, which is what
they brought. Of course
she wouldn’t touch it. Of course
this lasted all day and into
the night and by morning
had been replaced by embrace.
Kinship is a gun set to stun,
circumstance a falcon striking
midair. Tonight I know the head
shot, I know the kneeling man.
If you know a face, how you know
a face is the way every part of it
works together when, still a person,
across a table a person laughs
on just another sunny day.