Scavenging to Feast

The New Republic

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POETRY JUNE 12, 2013

Scavenging to Feast

I knew a girl in a tartan skirt and a plaid shirt; you can’t
say fairer than that, although she unbuttoned the shirt
to her breastbone, careful as a vulture with corpse underfoot,
and said, “I’ve overcoordinated.” Her bra was red,
sneaking, a little shimmer of blood at the edge of the mouth,
sinking then into water. That’s what I think of, small breasts like water,
flapping the way water does just before you break
into the underdeep. She held my hands beneath me.
She had a way of speaking that removed any hope of relief.
Hours she could talk, holding dinner hostage to love—
a lettuce in one fist, lipstick in the other,
not my idea of foreplay but what could you do?
Sitting at that empty table, my hands unstably wanted
to cradle her ankles not as a lover but as one starving thing
to another, the wolf and the crow, who in famine make covenants
stranger than marriage, joined by their hunger—a capable priest—
and dine on bodies the crow finds for them both; while the wolf
breaks hide and opens the bones. I would have done anything for her
incidentally, and as a benefit to myself. Even her chatter
I let into me, listening through words for coordinates
that would lead me to a dark place in the heart’s snowsunk forest,
past lakes of cannibalized sky—long birdless white shores—
a naked patch of ground where we could settle and feed.

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