I am not young.
I am the color of winter grass
silver on the backside golden on the belly.
Two hawks circle a mesmerized field rat
going round him like an eye with the rat as the pupil
to teach him death.
I hear the coyote hunting in grass up to his testicles
lying to the rabbit and the mouse saying
“I am grass. These blades can’t cut you.”
But on a good day
when the mouse himself is stalking wild celery seeds
that click against each other like teeth
the coyote goes with the eloquence of blood
to the heart of the mouse
teaching him death.
I am not young.
I have seen the beginning and the end.
Now the middle swells around me like a waist of water.
Cold mornings I make my own fire.
Standing naked in the shaving mirror, I recognize the cold
that looks for emptiness to fill.
There are rooms in me round as the astonished eye of a mouse
where children have been sacrificed
where jars of human hair and teeth and fingertips are stored.
There are dark corners in every lighted room
and shadows thrown on hard wood floors like carcasses.
But on a good night
when the heart is beating on its skin drum
and the blood is stumbling drunk through hallways of the body
waking up the dead and the half dead
I go outside to the sky
to look for stars coming down. I raise my hands
to the one who comes to save or destroy me, saying,
“Thank you for this chance to see and hear and feel myself
in this deep water where life begins
where schools of joy swim with schools of madness and disgust.”
I can’t tell the difference sometimes.
I fight with myself in the night, fight with my love.
Can’t tell where shadows end and the darkness begins.
When even rainbows are a twisting of the light
how can I know myself apart from darkness
know myself from apart from light?
I listen to this heart, to this blood beating and I am saved.