Simple Machine

You buried your face in the seine’s laces
and squinted at the reasons for our losses.
They blanketed you. One might say the seine

became a figure for the weight of sin.
One might say it was merely an old net.
Waterlogged, was it heavier than night?

Heavier than a body, waterlogged?
The pollywogs in its folds were hind-legged.
They seemed to you quite incidental.

One’s tail was replaced with the absence of tail.
Sutured the seine as a doctor would a thigh,
one imagines. Didn’t you use zip-ties, though?

As you worked, the dog danced at your hip.
One might see dancing as a figure for hope.

.

Presumably, a neighbor came to fix
the fence, to mend the barbed-wire where the horse,

the painted horse, plunged through headlong, flecks
of blood washed to the northeast ditch by hours

of rain, the storm which bade her plunge, which fixed
her eyes skyward in a rolling frenzy, hers

alone, that terror, as you lay transfixed
by spots of light which were not quite not-there,

just invisible to us. Tubes transfused
your blood with oxygen. We collected hair

for paintbrushes. With a chainsaw, an hour,
more, for the renderer to quarter her.

I say a neighbor must’ve fixed the fence.
Perhaps it fixed itself. No difference.

.
.

Ten years now, and still I love the uneven weight
of grief. Not likely that one might

call the panel-truck that removed the horse
refrigerated hearse.

Not impossible either. I loved the disappearing act
as a child: the net both artifact

and artifice, its holes replaced
with smaller holes, re-laced

with something that wasn’t lace. How plastic
tadpoles seem out of context, slick

to the eye, dry to the touch.
I think often of that calm slatch

between waves, droplets lit by late sun,
which one might call incidental, mightn’t one?

.

You’d have said the way I flinched resembled
a gun-shy whelp.
The men came in uniform. They assembled
to give what help

they could give—their line, twenty-one strong.
An over-ripe
ellipsis, one might say about their string,
a braided rope

of faces, frayed by the droplets falling
with abandon.
One might think formality of feeling
comes from a gun.

Blanks, even, tear holes in the bolt of air.
Air: the cloak the walking wear?

.
.

I said I love the uneven weight of grief,
though I mean uneasyLoved. Something
that bucks tense. A cement mixer

lays down new tanks for spawning,
to be lined with astroturf, come spring.
You likely never saw a beast like that

churn and spew in the pasture, absurd
in its lack of context—pistons for tendons,
a little man in a plastic hat for a head.

It sleeps there all night. Shine a light, see
how close the coyotes live to the house.
How their eyes, in darkness, enumerate

themselves, like stars, perhaps, or a droplet
on a web. It makes no difference of late.

J. P. Grasser

J. P. Grasser

A current Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry, J.P. Grasser is a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief for Quarterly West.
J. P. Grasser

Latest posts by J. P. Grasser (see all)

Author: J. P. Grasser

A current Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry, J.P. Grasser is a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief for Quarterly West.