Animal Life


When we argued about animals we said
                                          political not lingual and
            opened the closet door kept usually
                       closed. Inside the animals
              were clothed in their narrows, answering to
                     he and she—what
        difference what name? What name could be so wrong
           so as to render creature other
                     than its memory of self?—males spilling
     eels and the females in the parlour,
                    grinding salt. The animals may despise
     the way we try so hard, if they possess
                                          the caudal fin which is devised
        to despise—An eye for an eye
        says the elephant, in the dream we have
              of elephants—yet, flying
we keep low
              and swooping
over faraway countries
                        of which we know nothing, dropping
feed to fatten rosebuds, or else babies
            on the vine. Animal, let me come for you. Another day
        I will come for you. I will be
     stuffed with feeling, flung
                                      open like the daylily cluster, petals
               crushed to tropical powder.


The animals wait in the field,
                                         horns unlocked. When
            the brown bear sinks it is
        against expectation and the physical heart
that runs
              a hundred miles
     to the river recently
swollen with flood
                           and the physical heart unbuttoning
           year after year, waiting for sun to assume its position.


               Fat drops of black like ink
     spread on the surface of stones. Elsewhere
              lichen is green as seedlings and interrupted
                  by moss. If you could make what is quick
   even quicker and with a pin thrust out
                 the petals of a thousand cherry blossoms all at once
                 like frantic tossing blooms
                 from the back of a truck, you could also see
                        with this type of quickness
           petals gather force
                                    then shoot out like a shout.
              Then the easy wither on branches,
                     hundreds of heart attacks contained in twine.


               When fat tomatoes ripen
in a cluster too fat and run-over with pulp,
                          it is too much to hold in the hand or not
waste. If you seize the thin gland between male spilling
                                       flanks, you may make

         perfume with it. Is this not more
     than the sum of parts? Is this not more than knowing
                     which heartpart to swallow, chew and eat?
                                      The doe's eye glossy not
needing light,
                     I would that its eye
           come close to mine, fire-
  worked of vine, blistering skin,
              long-leaping as a creature, real creature,
outside. How else can a leap be
            but outside? Its redness a color unseen in the dark.


     waiting only for the sun to assume its position.
Don't imagine, cool out quick, empty like
            a bleached bone, sky drained towards the edge
                 of no color, when later, there is working,
         and the purse zippered and the willful waiting and coffee spilling, and then
               the deer. The deer
      trying to tell but she was not. The deer
        making sound but it was not. Its rolled
     eye sideways not looking. The real heart
              loud pump sounding and viscous-eared.
                       Accord of time and space
           but no amity.
                        How to address it. Deer, deer

     but to whom else shall I speak? Not
                                                you which brings us too close
        for mud, for shale roofs and damaged houses—not thou,
and then again

            high on the ridge of stunted junipers,
the rocks are dipped
        with fat black drops. Even lichen cannot recall
                           a color outside the palette of decay. Rocks in slow decay,
                 sore skin friction. Give me
   the moment before,
                              the intensity of its not looking.
      in the river and along the banks
and buried afloat above its silty bottom are creatures
               you never dream of
and have never seen.


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