I do think of them from time to time— just now sucking the pulp of a tangerine the taste of which is mostly texture, in this spin-drunk season that seems to forget —us. —itself. At the job I lost, their husk carcasses with the locust bean’s cracked brown pods rustled on the brick steps leading into the white-walled hours of computer screen; their compressed toil missing from the hives they left agape in the backyard of the next-door neighbor who, recently divorced, had brought us the jars of honey I spooned into teas I sipped in the break room and watched at the window as he continued to tend the needle palm and hydrangea. In the age of loss there is the dream of loss in which, of course, I am alive at the center— immobile but no one’s queen— enveloped (beloved) in bees, swathed in their wings’ wistful enterprise. They pry the evolved thin eyelids behind which I replay the landscape as last I knew it (crow feathers netting redder suns), their empire’s droning edge mindless in the spirals of my obsolescing ears. Beneath my feet what kind of earth I’m terrified to break into sprint across to free myself, to free them from the myth they make of me and then bury below their dance of manufactory; what kind of future they could die for if punching into me their stings— what future without risking the same; and while, in either body the buzzards of hunger conspire, what kind of new dread animal, this shape we take?
for Jericho, with thanks to Carl Phillips
I like men who are cruel to me;
men who know how I will end;
men who, when they touch me,
fasten their shadows to my neck
then get out my face when certain
they haven’t much use for being seen.
I like men to be cruel to me.
Any men who build their bodies into
widths of doors I only walk through
once will do. There’s a difference
between entrances and exits I don’t
have much use for now. I’ve seen
what’s left behind after a hawk
has seized a smaller bird midair.
The feathers lay circled in prattle
with rotting crab apples, grasses passing
between the entrances and exits
of clover. The raptor, somewhere
over it, over it. Cruelty where?
The hell would grief go in a goshawk?
It’s enough to risk the open field,
its rotten crab apples, grasses passing
out like lock-kneed mourners in sun.
There I was, scoping, scavenging
the damage to drag mystery out of
a simple read: two animals wanted
life enough to risk the open field
and one of them took what it hunted.
Each one tells me he wants me
vulnerable. I already wrote that book.
The body text cleaved to the spine,
simple to read as two animals wanting
to see inside each other and one
pulling back a wing to offer—See?
Here—the fastest way in or out
and you knew how it would end.
You cleaved the body text to the spine
cause you read closely. You clock damage.
It was a door you walked through once
before pivoting toward a newer image of risk.