Leaves, like the things of man
A minus tide and a waning moon, yet no key.
On the littoral, only wrack and runes.
Touch me, Mister-here-yet-not. Hold my hand.
Yesterday, his ghost threw Sundays Times
in my face, a hooked pillow, bedroom slippers.
Tonight, in a false calm, I grieve, walking
a tideline strewn with gilted sand dollars.
Tonight, at Seder, I told the boys Id destroy their
$5 Lincolns if the afikomen was not returned.
Tear them, the eight-year-old said. Burn them.
But my son warned: Dont ever dare her.
Man-not-here is out of dares and time and memory.
Im chilled, but the prompt to tear and burn has
has led me here in search of some key.
As the undertow seethes out and in, footprints
slick away. No good-bye to the silence
and rage of dementia. The runes say I must,
by now, know both effect and cause,
shadows of unleaving and of loss. No dawn
will peach the horizon. No green flash.
And where is the door? Or the heart?
This is only lands end, not the end. I may yet
need to lock him out. But I have no key.
Black Widow Mutation
He was worried youd bite off his head for putting
compost in with trash. Like the joke where
a husband asks, What have I done right? his worries
increase as his memories fray, and you must—yet again—
swallow hard. Now, the Black Widow has its appeal:
a male-muncher, freed from protective custody. Till death
do us part did not seem to imply death and death
as an endless cycle. Forget sucking out the richness of
brain matter. Theres little left. One clean bite might do.
Though it looks as if youve been crossed
with the silkworm genes you read about, bred
to spit a stronger thread, one not so easily broken.
In this mutant, transgenic state, you may have
forgotten how to kill and only remember to cocoon.
Reynard is camouflaged by sumac, Vixen.
He is in pursuit—will take you leave you take
you. His will, his way. He will make you ache to
slink and steal, will have you skulk in meadows,
a red singe at sunrise. Fox dream will cause
your teeth and the nights to grow long, will offer
you bones promising fresh, sweet marrow,
a hidden den of your own.
But—beware the fox dream with its pounce and
sudden bite, or you will keen in the shadows,
hungry, alone, desperate to be again silent,
feral and free.
Together, we are feral, rolling in the sharp scent
of the dead, rolling and rutting and baying.
Then we rise and race until grassland and trees
blur to reels of yellow-green grosgrain.
When weve outstripped the pack, we seek
full-moon light, freshwater runnels,
and the thrill of a hot kill. Hunger propels—
hunger for blood and bone and pulsing life,
yet always, too, appetite for more, something
unnameable. Like all predators,
we pursue death, robust, eager, quivering,
because. . . its never our own deaths we see.