Taken Out Back and Shot
The possum and the buzzard, both pests
and worthless. But those close-set eyes,
that hunger and loneliness. . . not nothing.
Not a thing to be disregarded, mocked.
Last week we saw a nest high in the limbs
of a walnut tree. Squirrel, I said. Hawk,
you replied. And all the while we knew
it was a mass of tinder, just waiting for
our arrogance to ignite the twigs,
or the thing to fall apart, freighted
with ice because it was nothing,
housed nothing, and deserved to be
scattered on the lawn like leftover bones.
What we love is too close-set, too lonely.
At the Red Table
Today I will make a cake dark
as night where no one lives,
and I will feed chunks of it
to my daughter who will grab
and smile and I will sit with her
at the long red table in our kitchen.
Today the oven.
Today the hour.
Today the eggs emptied,
irreparable in the sink's deaf ear.
Today the clock singing Ready.
The cake emerges, and I could
stop myself from carving it down,
could halt the handing over
of this sweet shape of sadness
to the small girl before me
who watches and waits and asks.