Self-Portrait as Mutant We fear the fidgeting of GMOs, spider DNA in the corn, crab DNA in the goat milk. One by one our genes are ticking off and on, dazzling broken Christmas lights, deciding: green eyes for this baby, an extra rib for that one. Magic powers, a maybe. Born with mutations you might not see,…
was a strand of scenic overlooks. I first wrote strange
—a strange of scenic overlooks—
my mistake, and strange enough
was everything bathed in the red
Mars dust of Sedona,
the iron in the rocks aligned
with iron in our blood,
they say, so it tugs on us.
It tugged. Every night
on Airport Mesa, a crowd gathered
and the Milky Way made a white mess
of the sky. Was I the only one
who’d wanted to polish it
black again? Our honeymoon
was a scene of stranded overlooks.
We posed for panoramic
photographs minus the photographs.
Behind us the canyon was banded
red, copper, purple
—millions of years of compressed sunsets—
where the river had gnawed
down to bone, down
to its strange, scenic marrow.
The soybean fields flooded and froze over, and the boys—not yet their father’s sons, not yet
worrying about crop stubble beneath the ice— skate, twilight settling in their hair,
until their mother, watching at the window, calls them in for supper. When it’s dark
they’ll sit elbow-to-elbow at the worn farm table each son will want when she’s gone,
ringing spoons against the sides of bowls, that silver-on-ceramic note. But now they glide
across the ice, not yet worrying about surfaces that barely hold them, and there is nothing
between them and their mother but the clear syrup of old glass. It moves so slowly, no one sees.
The Parable of the Bear
Beloveds, I keep picturing it this way: we’re standing, all of us,
between the Bear and every creature the Bear calls prey, and half of us
step aside. Half of us aren’t enough to hold the Bear. It lumbers,
then, in a blur of claws and mange, charges through. What did you think
would happen? The Bear would lose its appetite? The Bear might be tamed
with a tiny bicycle, a propeller hat, a gold sphere to balance on its nose?
I don’t need to describe what happens next: the smell of blood, the surprise
of white femur. Ones I have called beloved, I keep picturing you
this way: sitting off to one side, watching the Bear work, waiting to see
if it leaves any meat on the bones.
Pearl Dagnall doesn’t need somebody to love, and she’d tell you—if she ever talked to people offline—but interfacing is a problem for her. She has a limited tolerance for people in general, which is why she telecommutes. She has zero interest in romance with any of Facebook’s fabulous fifty-eight genders, and that’s the tip of the…
parable of the
accretion of labor,
queen at the height
of her powers,
pulse of the
hive audible, warm
aura of affirmation.
as ravens gather
bones in the earth
lagoon, a cradle:
water lilies poise
the illusion of stasis
where life sings:
the resurrectionand the light.
a poplar's nimbus
in early spring.
over the late.
ocean of waving
of vast spaces,
fires, sky ablaze
with the desire
ashes to ashes)
how we saved
what we could,
a sudden implosion and then nothing but tunnels covered in bone dust
a hawk with a human grin looks down as I pick up coins I’d buried in childhood
they smell of oak/smoke/pumpkin seed/ my mother’s hands showed how much she worried
the form of her fears a tiny beast: black and shiny/ tops of wheat wave as the wind shifts clouds
and the moon comes out prematurely/ the dying sun is a month’s worth of blood
smoothed on canvas/hillside in shadow/black stamens alert, petals a yellow warmth/birdcall blooms—
waves of sound—a refrain evoking prayer/earth an edifice— its backbone a witness—a barnful of solitude/your unholy
absence an artifact/we could not save us/gather the sea faithful angels, the yellow stars/it is time I become who I am
Once Upon A Time
We ate rabbit for dinner. This story saddened me most of all. Cynthia the psychic asks: How have you gotten this far with one oar? Old Miss Tilford pulled books out of a battered, upholstery bag like a good witch. Any story would do. In school I believed a thin, gruel-like self propped up by the alphabet. I stopped responding to my name. They thought I could not hear them but I could. You are one of the watched ones, she adds. I became my mother’s story, unable to respond to myself as she could not respond to me. Valium’s lovely blue notes became my lullaby. Cynthia in her ballet slippers dances in the airy loft between readings. Halifax is full of parables of drowning. When there I spoke in a language heard only by the dead, found words in an old can by a chips wagon and began again, my past as loud as silence in a Bergman movie. The tale of recovery does not end. My life remains narrowed by what I can’t accept. So much depends on who does the telling. I dream spring, a long life, fear I will be loved. Who is watching who deserves to be