17 October 2009

Paul Guest

[from Paul Guest's Notes for My Body Double, University of Nebraska, 2007]

At Last

All day I wanted, I ached, to tell
you of the rabbit dead in the road
and how the whole day I marked
time with its evisceration —
if at first I had touched its flank
or its sleek ears tucked back,
I would have taken the last measure
of its warmth. The ghost
of its abortive bound would be near.
And later when its torso
began to show, when its pelt was peeled
and its innards unspooled,
I didn't grieve. Flies had come
and in their noise, in their work,
they glittered. The flesh
seemed to sink with the sun
and I thought to tell you
that night at the door,
taking whatever you held
into my arms, at last I've kept
vigil over something,
over ruin, come see, come see, come see.

In the cuff of the wind
white petals sloughed
from the branches of the gnarled dogwood,
the tree I was taught
Christ's cross was cut from.
If once I believed
in so much holy ruin,
there was none to be found there.
And this was right.
In the matted entrails
of the slaughtered,
whoever thought to know the future
in the slick, wet coils
never saw me keeping watch
in the failing light
for the dead to vanish and you to appear.

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