Reading 'Lives of the Animals' by Robert Wrigley

I chewed your words with my morning
coffee and watched drivers peel out
of their driveways, while you crawled
“along the thoroughfare
of snakes.” Then I ate a peach and sweetbreads.

I went inside the mouse mummy, kissed
your horse—but not the dead one,
the billion flies that rose as a horse,
the other horse dead, too, by the “snake in the trough.”

I followed Highway 12 past page 50 thinking
of my mother at the table in assisted living,
and after another cup of coffee I went back
to watch you kick a nest of mice into the empty
hog pen. I had hefted an aspen-leafed nest
of rats in the bird house over my own fence.

I watched you send your father’s frozen
puddle of blood “like a stone into the woods” on page 73—
and it dawned: I had only two
of your poems to go. I looked up in time

to see last night’s moon, white
as the round stone I’d found on the 39-degree
morning in a bed of shriveling kelp on the beach
full moon perched on top of a fir, as if a father
had climbed a ladder to put the angel on top of the tree.

Even if I don’t believe in angels, in wishing on dead
stars—sometimes something comes,
as you said, something to open a “coarse
inexplicable soul to their sight.”

Copyright © 2017 Susan Landgraf. Originally appeared in Bellingham Review, November 2017. Used with permission of the author.