I wrote the latter two nights ago when I couldn’t sleep after strolling the city at dusk. The title is taken from an epic phrase coined by Jocelyn Zorn. I’ve been working with the former for a few months. Both are night poems and engage this simple Mary Oliver quote that I ritually return to.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
– Mary Oliver
His Name is Disaster
He drives a road curved along the hinterlands.
The night is dry. The doe’s white tail
flicks through the headlights and her body
uncurls beneath the wheels. The thump is solid. His knuckles
blanch across the steering wheel. The pine air
freshener waves and waves even after the car
stops and when he finds the doe’s body
heaped on the pavement, steam
puffs from her wound.
He feels comforted. He drapes the doe’s sloped
neck in his lap, rests a hand in the warm
gash at her stomach and weeps. You can feel his hand,
inside of you, slowly bring you back. When you wake,
the knotted fear in your throat unfurls like the white
ropes of fat loosened across the road. The man beside you
traces the pale slopes of your ribs, the doe’s
blood still wet in his eyes.
His Body Does Not Call to Me
There are many pink nights in the Bay, blue nights, nights
illuminated by headlight constellations along Folsom and rows of street lamps
quietly pittering to life down sidewalks.
I take the evening 12 where a passenger has discarded a chicken bone.
If I could take the fat from that bone and feed it to the pigeons
I wouldn’t because there are fewer pigeons here.
Perhaps the white pigeons still coo on the olive branches
in Spain, coupled at dawn in the Plaza of a mountain pueblo.
I will never know.
I am here instead, remembering bodies I’ve never known, constellations
my mouth will never trace along milky forearms and how,
years later, I still wake groping a phantom space in my bed.
Across the Atlantic ocean his body does not call to me.
All that I recognize is pink smog, how night hides a world
and admit that it is beautiful.