Slow Dance With Sasquatch
“For who could ever learn to love... a Beast?”
- Narrator, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
After we got word of that movie, we all began brushing our fur back
with river water, fastening orchids to our knuckles, wearing tuxedos
stitched of black moss. They must be coming, we told each other,
chewing sage and mint to cut the meat from our breath, and we must be ready
to receive them. We collected every dead tree
for miles, stripped them with our claws, built a dance floor.
Hung a chandelier of robins’ nests and glow worms from the elbow
of an oak. The crickets strummed their legs to the chirping
of the tree frogs; the tree frogs matched the woodpecker’s rhythm,
who took his cue from the black bear moaning in her den.
The herons came and taught us to dance, to step lightly, mindful
of delicate things. We had only ever learned trample and snarl,
to be locomotive bearing stockpiles of terror, grinding through farm
girls’ nightmares. But what if it was not true? What if there was
gentle in our savage? What if our paws upon a fragile throat
could mean something beautiful? That night, we turned
forest into ballroom. The clouds, alive with light and song,
We waited for them to come. Imagined them in dizzy blue dresses,
skin of sculpted milk, hands light as fog. They would touch our tusks
like piano keys, kiss our dreadlocked shoulders, pull princes
from our bull-goblin bones. We waited
and waited and waited...
as they fell from the sky
we could change back
into something we’d never been.
from Slow Dance with Sasquatch
“U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor
models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses
to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning
nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did
in 1960.” – Reuters
Kissing has been outlawed. That was first. Not even we want
to see that. There are fines for showering with the lights on.
This is to pay for the playground reinforcements: anchor chains
for the swing sets, an extra eight inches of steel for the slides,
motors for the teeter-totters. As if the children go outside.
As if we can stand the sight of each other long enough to make
children. We joke about falling in love (two wrongs don’t make
a right), dream of moving to Norway, Russia, someplace where
we must keep a sweetheart warm. The beaches have been
empty as long as we can remember. Stores no longer sell bathing
suits; too much waste come autumn. In the restaurants, we
watch ourselves eat, love songs curling through the speakers
like gas into a gas chamber. The air, thick with unspoken apology.
It’s hard to know anymore what we’re disgusted with. It all bleeds
together: The hum of motorized wheelchairs, the groan of the
depressed elevator, the buses wheezing like winded St. Bernards.
When my legs permit the climb, I stand alone on the roof of the
apartment, listening to the sound of my breathing. I imagine
being thin with a woman who is thin. How close our bones would
be. Our blood. I imagine watching a child grow inside her. I wait
for my breathing to slow back down. I watch the airplanes
sinking in the sky.
forthcoming in “The Rattling Wall”
With These Hands
after Bruce Springsteen
A man opens his chest onstage.
From his chest
the animals come:
bison, grizzlies, eagles, wolves.
All made of light.
We are moving in the pit,
arms in the air, palms open,
wildness falling into our fingers.
Holding up the light
that lifts us. Calling to the dead.
Coming apart in their pipes, their horns. Our blood
moves to the front of our bodies.
Drawn toward the shining beasts.
The good dead, holy and blaring.
They prowl among us, tear into
our flesh, opening
our veins, our grief. Only our blood
is left, our bloodlight foaming;
it joins theirs and they grow larger.
Blood ends and blood begins.
Blood ends and light begins.
We are broken dams.
We are goddamn broken.
We are God: dams broken.
There is only the noise, the blood in our mouths,
the light in our ears, the lifting, the lifting,
these hands and hands
and the presence
of hands. These brief, ecstatic,
forthcoming in decomp