Country Things

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Some days even nature seems sinister. Walking around the farm with a beer, Seeking some solace after the evening news, You meet the cat you love coming back From the windbreak, a rare songbird In his mouth. In the mulberry branches The silkworms writhe in nests that, backlit By twilight, look like X-rays of lungs. In the pasture the cow kicks at her calf And won’t let her nurse, while in a seam Of gleaming honey in the oak that lightning Cleaved the queen daintily eats her offspring. In the rafters of the barn the starlings are Pushing the owls’ eggs out of the nest, While the owl herself is out hunting. Going in, you nearly step on a swarm Of ants ravishing a butterfly like people Tearing a capsizing ship down, its wings Like torn sails, and the first thing you hear When you enter the kitchen is the snap Of the mousetrap you set this morning, Tired of being kept awake all night By their scratching in the walls. And so You are met with your own small act Of cruelty, your contribution to the whole. With a pair of pliers that are themselves Always biting something, you take The broke-necked mouse by the tail And throw it into the darkening yard, Never knowing that in favor of it the cat Let go of the bird, who was only stunned, And whose song you woke to this morning.