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
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.
ellipsis, one might say about their string,
a braided rope
of faces, frayed by the droplets falling
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 uneasy. Loved. 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
Also by J. P. Grasser (see all)
- Simple Machine - October 10, 2018