Officer, it all began with a cat
skull he found in our alfalfa field,
one pearly-dull tooth shining in the sun.
He held it aloft like he had discovered the
Chalice of Charlemagne, cup of eternal
salvation, arched eye-sockets splitting
his life in twain. Afterwards that boy was
out by the side of the road at all hours.
Always bringing something back.
Shed valise of snake, cicada husk,
beetle prongs, armadillo back, three
paws he cut off of some road kill and
plopped in a mayonnaise jar; that’s
why we don’t sort memories by
Christ pinned to cross but moth-wing
on cotton batting, owl excrement
in butter tubs waiting to be tweezed
for treasure—the dead lizard
excavation, patient fingers probing
for recalcitrant heart. It was not like
he was a nut job. Just so curious.
He would have taken up Van Gogh’s
ear (if VG didn’t mind and really was
done with it), rushed it home to his
room and sat on his bed face a-flush
with good fortune. He would have
held it tenderly and even cooed a little
something to the artist’s perturbed
soul should some unseen invisible
trembling string still happen to attach
the two. I picture it sometimes when
I’m discouraged, my St. Francis singing—
ear a fast-calming down bird in the
nest of his delicate pierced hands.
That’s the only child I knew.
II. What Will Testify
how the days fling us, hold us fast, pin our
wrists, drain bone and marrow as we walk by
smoldering burn cans, drained eyes crying love
and pity over thin fields with this way
that way bent down grasses where no child has
appeared for years, leaves un-transfiguring
in darkening air, gold hallways of bride
aisle now vanishing as the senseless heart
perches for one last pulse in the throat and
all but a few wild notes slip back to stone.
JENNIFER BLAIR has been published in Copper Nickel, Cold Mountain Review, Kestrel, Naugatuck Review, Rattle, Tulane Review, Superstition Review and New South among others. She is from Yakima, WA.