To reap what we sowed required cutting.
Every tender thing falls to the ground
anyway, in the end, spun on the end of a stem
until the weight of living
crushes the bloom away.
Petals open and close, goodbyes said,
hungers negotiated and refused, or met
with our need pressing on us, pressing us into
the shapes we become. Full flower feels the bee coming,
the stamen dusting the fine hairs, winged flight
then frost. The flower dreams of plumhood.
The bee with flower pollen on his pant leg
goes home at night to the hive and settles
into his marriage bed and defiles it.
They settle for that. Reading your letters into the night,
(reentry we call it). Tearing the petals off,
Withering. Grief, what I call it.
Your river, your bee, your meadow,
My plum. Your mouth like a plum: when I suck
the bitter skin, the sweetness on my tongue
could not be rivaled by wealth,
or comfort, or simple contentment.
We reached our hands in,
pulled out the bottom. It was there
for the pulling—how to resist that, knowing?
Lying in our skins in different countries,
lying. Awake and bitter, wanting.
The world keeps churning, regardless.
A squirrel makes his home in the eave
of a house.
When squirrel leaves one morning for food
the man who lives in the house
blocks the hole,
evicts the squirrel
who doesn’t know about property or rights of tenancy,
The squirrel gnaws through everything the man can put up,
almost as fast
as the boards can be applied,
with savage teeth.
Humane traps are bought
and the experimentation begins.
War is waged.
As soon as the man sets the trap, the squirrel springs it
and eats the bait.
Meanwhile the squirrel, who has put off mating,
is homeless and irritable
but getting fat on good bait,
never getting caught.
The man alters the trap each time, finally
tricks the squirrel by painting the sides black
shimming the trigger mechanism on one side
his last defensive move not thought, but felt.
The squirrel is caught,
slated for execution,
but how will it be done?
Drowning seems feasible (the cleanest),
but more calculations:
how deep a garbage can will accommodate the trap?
Will the door come open when the trap is vertically oriented?
How long can a squirrel hold his breath?
He is a male squirrel, the man has checked.
Who came up with the idea that animals have no god
no prayers, no soul?
Savage, the trap of belief.
The squirrel, submerged, thrashes out his last moments
in the cage retrofit to baffle him
his agile mind succumbing to more deprivation
than can be borne.
The man is terrified that the squirrel will not die
waits in fear with the garbage can lid in hand
imagines lunging red-eyed savagery
slick angry squirrel
but a squirrel can’t hold his breath any longer than we can.
We are way beyond shelter:
we live here.
Such cold, like a fever. One wonders:
is there warmth
in this hunger.
(The season presses on, the ice thickens.)
Risk losing fingers to frostbite for
the tyranny of biting into the flesh of another
with tearing teeth;
a sheet of ice
glazed over the muscle tissue heart,
terra firma of lakeside.
(Birds sitting in frigid water
by the walking path.)
Bread and chocolate to ease waiting.
Precarious to walk alone, one duck in water
Remorse makes an overlap of this impulse,
fuses chase, kill to blood in snow.
where memory intertwines with dream: fingers in flesh,
the way lattice work is disassembled.
Feathers falling to the ground (snow),
Snowfall covers until spring.
Kathline Carr, writer and visual artist, earned her BFA in Creative Writing with concentrations in visual art and feminist philosophy from Goddard College, VT and holds an MFA in Visual Arts from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. Her first book Miraculum Monstrum, forthcoming from Red Hen Press, is the winner of the 2015 Clarissa Dalloway Book Prize. Additional writing/art has appeared in Alexandria Quarterly, Calyx, Earth’s Daughters, Hawaii Review, CT Review and elsewhere; she has recently exhibited in the Berkshires, NYC, Boston, and Toronto. Carr is represented by artSTRAND Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts and Brill Gallery in North Adams, MA. She lives in North Adams with her husband and sometimes-collaborator, figurative painter Jim Peters, and her daughter Mercedes.