I was a gerund,
filling the holes like water for lakes. I ate
until I was gone, the world—
made round in my middle. Wallow-eyed,
I was the beast.
I polished off each animal like a silver urn.
Emptiness was an egret. I left.
The stomach was hollowed ground,
and I filled myself with bone, each rib a crackling key of a pianola.
Each mammal sang a wooden tune, the fish
and birds clarinet. I inhaled them
like first thoughts.
To learn the language of hunger, one must vowelize all sounds.
The rubber boa, the snowshoe hare, pika—
each one a friend,
each friend a sound.
The coyote was flint-clawed, each of his rocks
narrowed down to saber.
He waited for me, fed me himself. I swallowed
and the canine traversed my pipes. His tail balled in my
neck, his daggers in my pink.
He unbled me—
For when I was full, the world was silent.
The world began as it always does:
dark as womb, empty of stars,
tings as knife on glass. Lipless, without body,
I rested. Put my heart here, I wanted to say.
When my blood scattered, our populous—this was the war song. I was not sorry
for such calls, the way each person sprouted from a drop, and later
into each other’s skin.
Finalist in the 2014 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize
Art by Evie Lovett