The Animist

Does birdcall
come from poverty
or wonder? Fear, fire,
or fervor?
Lying on my ribs,
I heard the forest chirping
in the crook of my elbow.

My body dissolved
as I closed my eyes.
Claws looped
around my ears.
In an infinite shift
of muscle,
memory hung suspended,

wetly breathing:
From everything.
Until the cows come home.

Poised above a river
I roared. Her brown fur
matted into knots. I did not celebrate
the steel-shining fish.
I did not let it leave
the bloody ripple of our jaw.

How simple it was:
roaring beneath a sun
threaded with wings and honey.

A million years we walked,
the bear and I.
Body and mind, we ambled through arrows,
staggered in the chains of tsars.
Made shelter in shellfire.

How simple it is
to live for its own sake.
How easy it is to love.
We jumped off the rivered cliff

and long claws slid softly
out of my listening.
Our brown fur
matted out of knots.
My body lost its warmth.

I woke to bones bleached
beneath the algae blooms,
claws reaching for silver.

How simple it was:
to build an ossuary.
To nail our body to the wall
and write my story.

Poverty, wonder.
Fear, fire, and fervor.
Words scratched so neatly
on wings and setting light.

In the infinite shift of muscle,
how simply I forgot.
How easily the cows
feathered into the side of the road.

How softly we smiled.



Note: The image is a still from Come and See, directed by Elem Klimov.

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