Early Art

It was the sort that came without instruction,
just time alone, a pencil, and a scrap
torn from a marled composition notebook.
Nights, beneath a pleated yellow lamp,
I drew my crude approximations of
the female form: two buoyant flips of hair,
enormous breasts miraculously clinging
to a meager stick of torso leading—where?
A hulking Gray’s Anatomy resolved
that mystery, then opened up another.

Now, as I read beside my sleeping wife,
I think of ill-lit nights spent drawing pictures
of everything I thought that I could guess.
She starts, as in a dream of sudden steps,
then pulls the sheet to cover a bare shoulder.
I hold still, watching as she settles back
into whatever temporary world
she’s left unfinished, and might finish yet.

The Wounded Deer at Shady Cove

That they continue stripping tiny leaves
from the birches is not the mystery, but rather
who in this two-finch town along the Rogue
would only maim them, expertly, with arrows.
This is what an older generation might call
soft news. There is a creature, and there is
a creature’s suffering. They’re hard to distinguish.
It might have been bad aim, taken out of season.
You never hear the end of stories like these.

Owls

A Muzak fragment of Mozart’s Minuet
pumps from the gut of a smiling, snub-nosed owl
and repeats every fifteen seconds. It’s only seven,

but I jam the fat ends of my earplugs in
and watch green constellations pulse and wheel
across the ceiling.
……………………………. Just as I start to drift,
the baby’s cry returns me to the room,
mind blank with an infinity of thoughts.

I rock him underneath our nine-foot sky
while a dark form quarters the yard and scans for voles
that run along the redwood fence.
……………………………………………………. Come morning,
we’ll stroll through the live oak’s perforated shade
and find two woven clots of fur and bone.

Alfonsina Storni’s Funeral Notices

Funeral Notices

There beside the crosses, small and black
like anchors cast into that final bay,
the names of those who died today
lie there, horizontal,
the way the dead themselves will.
Nearby, on an indifferent piece of paper,
my own name, now enormous, does a caper.

Alfonsina Storni: Avisos fúnebres

Al lado de pequeños cruces negras
—Anclas echadas en finales puertos—
Yacen los nombres de los muertos
Del día, horizontales
Como muertos reales.
Enorme ahora, sobre el papel frío,
Junto a las cruces bailotea el mío.