After reading “The Gazelle” by Rainer Maria Rilke
How can two words capture the magic of such a creature?
How can a name hold the essence of anything? I wonder, cradling
huckleberries from the bush, how to express the way my hands
are left a misty purple, how to tell my grandfather I will never feel
safer than with him, in this clearing in the forest.
Him, with a shining face downturned and silent, me, always with
my mind somewhere else. When we drove up the mountain and a deer
stopped in front of us, its eyes still and desperate, he turned down
the radio, put a hand on my shoulder. We watched it pass together.
What are the words for knowing you can never return to a place
the same as you were before? For him, I will try to find them:
homesick yearning, button coffee, gunpowder spoons.
The long-gone best friend was an incense
fiend and I can still see her at the hearth
sending sweet smoke through her childhood
Above the couch a moose head
hangs with deadening dry eyes.
Her parents fight, so we collect soft
slime from hairbrush handles, suspend
it from the antlers, wait for someone
to notice. The dog barks, marches,
trails blood from his gauzed paw.
We’re about to sleep each in a different
La-Z-Boy, smoke still clawing
when she whispers
Everything is dying here.