The Misunderstanding of Wool
As if animals aren’t terrified of the blades
of their shearing. In the thrift stores, it is easy to see how
the wool of this town has been misunderstood.

It isn’t hard to find the ruins: woolen sailor pants, the funeral
suits and interview jackets, hats for shrunken heads, and now-
baby sweaters.

When I have assembled the pile, I begin to teach the wool
the old ways of their sheep and rabbits.
I remove false eyes of pearl buttons, cut the tags
of secondary origins. And then

I teach them heartbeat and bunching into corners, teach them
grass height for hiding and grass green for food, hawk shadow,
owl call, magpie lures and mimics.

The dry woolens must be reintroduced to oil
if they are to make it. They will need to be given back
to fear of the coming dog and bramble snags.

They must never trust water, or anything
that beckons with the reflection of ourselves.
JENNIFER BOYDEN's forthcoming book, The Declarable Future, was awarded the Four Lakes Prize in Poetry; her first book, The Mouths of Grazing Things, won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry in 2010. She’s in the process of moving from a stable decade of teaching to one of starting a collaborative arts and writing residency in the Oregon woods.