Growler | Mark Turcotte

Once tried to kill it,
the dark animal
pacing In my chest
with all my demons
wrapped
around its tail.

I built a fire
in the back yard,
burned eighteen years
of words,
watched notebooks
curl into ash
and spiral bones.

The Growler,
writhing inside,
ripped me open,

pushed out a hesitant claw
and began to sing.

If You Should Tire of Loving Me | Margaret Widdemer

If you should tire of loving me
Some one of our far days,
Oh, never start to hide your heart
Or cover thought with praise.

For every word you would not say
Be sure my heart has heard,
So go from me all silently
Without a kiss or word;

For God must give you happiness…
And oh, it may befall
In listening long to Heaven-song
I may not care at all!

The Summer Ends | Wendell Berry

The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

All Your Horses | Kay Ryan

Say when rain
cannot make
you more wet
or a certain
thought can’t
deepen and yet
you think it again:
you have lost
count. A larger
amount is
no longer a
larger amount.
There has been
a collapse; perhaps
in the night.
Like a rupture
in water (which
can’t rupture
of course). All
your horses
broken out with
all your horses.

Lion Felling a Bull | Robyn Schiff

I came upon a fragment, one
anterior lion felling
one anterior bull. I was in a
museum so can’t call
it life, but here I felt my life come down
upon my life and have something to say about
the continual downhill grade
of the path from the ancient marble
quarry the dark marble

here was quarried from. First with form
and then with stone, I came in love
upon a fragment and should have loved the
pressure most. I have a
mother and a query. I quarreled with
my father the day my son was born and am the
father now. As a girl I flipped
over my handlebars flying down
a different hill every

time. I had a childhood friend named
Jill and an anti-carjacking
device called a club I policed myself
with by thinking hard of
my membership in and a keen sense of
the end of belonging. I drove my car into
a house, my house into the earth,
and I’m grinding the earth into hell.
I want to be more true

to the material world. The
wild upon the bull, the chisel
upon the wild. But it’s either true or
it isn’t. How can I
be more than what I am. I want to stop
identifying with the caliper or the
marble, the lion, its marble
mane, or the meat the lowing cow watched
its mate become and be

the altering heat again. I
stood before the fragment and asked
what doesn’t want to be whole? I’ve never
found fragmentation as
beautiful as objects that survive the
fall of civilization intact. Half-lion
felling half-bull, I feel pressure
in the forms to conclude; a coming
storm; electricity

in the air; an intention; but
whose? I saw crudeness in the ware
of the marble and finished in mind with
the crudeness of something
itself unfulfilled. And then something else
was exhumed in Athens. All I needed to see
was an inch of hindquarter of
lion or bull to love the world to
its conclusion but a

second front entirely is
forming. Mythology is sweet,
but husbandry is history. The head
of another lion
rises out of the gridded pit having
nothing to do with symmetry. A colossal
miscounting of lions felling
a sole bull. Two irreducible
lions made of the same

material as me will come
upon me and the pressure that
made them makes more of them than it makes of
me. The pressure that makes
makes more of them than it ever made of
me. Out of proportion, out of the quarry, great
pressure is forming, a thunder,
I feel a great pressure positioning
me. It has no regard.

Burning the Fields | Linda Bierds

1.

In the windless late sunlight of August,
my father set fire to a globe of twine. At his back,
the harvested acres of bluegrass and timothy
rippled. I watched from a shallow hill
as the globe, chained to the flank of his pickup truck,
galloped and bucked down a yellow row, arced
at the fire trench, circled back,
arced again, the flames behind
sketching first a C, then closing to O—a word
or wreath, a flapping, slack-based heart,

gradually filling. To me at least. To the mare
beside me, my father dragged a gleaming fence,
some cinch-corral she might have known,
the way the walls moved rhythmically,
in and in. And to the crows, manic
on the thermals? A crescent of their planet,

gone to sudden sun. I watched one stutter
past the fence line, then settle
on a Hereford’s tufted nape,
as if to peck some safer grain, as if
the red-cast back it rode
contained no transformations.

2.

A seepage, then, from the fire’s edge: there
and there, the russet flood of rabbits.
Over the sounds of burning, their haunted calls
began, shrill and wavering, as if
their dormant voice strings
had tightened into threads of glass.

In an instant they were gone—the rabbits,
their voices—over the fire trench,
into the fallows. My father walked
near the burn line, waved up to me, and from
that wave, or the rippled film of heat,

I remembered our porch in an August wind,
how he stepped through the weathered doorway,
his hand outstretched with some
book-pressed flower, orchid or lily, withered
to a parchment brown. Here, he said, but
as he spoke it atomized before us—
pulp and stem, the pollened tongue,
dreadful in the dancing air.

3.

Scummed and boxcar thin,
six glass-walled houses stretched beside our fields.
Inside them, lilies, lilies—

a thousand shades of white, I think.
Eggshell, oyster, parchment, flax.

Far down the black-mulched beds, they seemed
ancestral to me, the fluted heads of
dowagers, their meaty, groping,
silent tongues. They seemed
to form perspective’s chain:
cinder, bone, divinity. . .

4.

My father waved. The crows set down.
By evening, our fields took the texture
of freshened clay, a sleek
and water-bloated sheen, although no water
rested there—just heat and ash
united in a slick mirage. I crossed the fence line,
circled closer, the grasses all around me
collapsing into tufts of smoke. Then as I bent
I saw the shapes, rows and rows of tougher stems—

brittle, black, metallic wisps, like something grown
to echo grass. The soot was warm,
the sky held smoke in a jaundiced wing,
and as a breeze crossed slowly through,
stems glowed—then ebbed—
consecutively. And so revealed a kind of path,
and then a kind of journey.