[from Mary Jo Bang's The Bride of E, Graywolf, 2009]
Death and Disappearance
A plague. The population shaped by the spread.
The meeting with mammals whose bones are not found
Upright anymore. The slow pandemic and its subsequent
Effect. The unusually high rate of devastation.
Winter and spring. Take any year and it's possible to infer
The purple spots on abdomen or limbs.
The overwhelming priority. The impoverishment with
Every outbreak. The corpses in recurrent waves.
A pyre burning the molecular biology
Of the virulent strain and taking with it the haunting evocation
Of a face. A cluster of cases provides whatever
With no knowledge of exactly how. With no possible
Undermining flowering of certainty. The dark outsider status
Of the mechanical animal. Gear churn. Lung bellow.
A foot thumping in the rib cage. Back and forth.
The limited skills for finding what can no longer be seen.
Only a surround where one feels seriously cheated.
As if beat handily. As if exploited. As if a wide variety of poses
That resemble manikins. The fascinating nature of
The stratagems of staggering forward with exhaustion
Into the final further line of inquiry.
The body becoming meat and bone and the iconographic
Culture saturated with reaction. The subject itself
Now manifested in any number of ways as a formless arc.
Swaddled in the basic fact of layers of purpose
That simply become profoundly brutal. The aura escaping
Description except as an empire of trouble where cells line up
To meet the edge where the car takes the body away.