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.
The son I’ll never have is crossing the lawn. He is lying on an imaginary bed,
the coverlet pulled up over his knees—knees I don’t dare describe.
I recoil from imagining him as meat and bone, as a mind
and hands stroking the fur of his pet rabbit.
I never gave him the accordion I used to play, my mother and I
in duets: “The Minnesota Polka,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,”
never watched him push noodles into his mouth with fingers
while I wished he would use the spoon shiny with disuse.
I am free from longing to be free; I do as I please,
my money is my own, all the mistakes I make are only my mistakes.
What is it to look at something you made and see the future?
What is it to have someone made by your body, but whose mind
remains just out of reach? I’ll never know. Come here, little rabbit.
Eat these greens. I will pet your cloudy fur with the mind’s hand.