Birth, they say, is beautiful, blood beautiful, bigness beautiful -
orbed like the earth, kindly and nourishing as rising bread,
But not the sort of bigness or blood or birth to orb like the sun, not
to rise like the bread that gives life and gives it abundantly, to create with a breath.
That’s why they have to keep coming back and eating us, vulture to Prometheus,
Drinking us, so our wells would all run dry, if it weren’t for this vein to the sea.
Sit still and look beautiful, bleeding one, they say. What if I told them it’s not my blood,
but the blood of a pig, in a vial, that my mother gave me, so no one would know
That I was pierced already, pierced and the blood flowed, and that between one breath and the next
a world was made, within the slick of prime matter, the dark hidden sun?
And when you think I’m just being beautiful, I’m sitting on a box of little gods stolen from
my father’s tent, and I’ll lie to my husband, and sever a general from his head, if need be
to keep this world spinning, to keep this well wet, to keep this bread fresh for eating.
I might be a Grecian urn speaking truth, or maybe a jar of oil, never running out.
Funeral for a Fox
It was a strange day. Skies like pink pillars,
and storms, and then a fox, threadbare like
an overloved toy, curled up by the garden.
I thought it might be there for the chickens
again, but it acted strangely. Rabies, I thought,
and sent the children in. As I was picking corn
I saw it again, flitting past the fenceline.
Then a third time that evening, when I went
To feed the ponies, it was curled by the hay,
as though waiting for something, as though
it wanted to belong with us. But it darted off.
In the morning my mother found it dead
by the azaleas, curled like a grub, flat,
And called the game warden, who said “distemper”
And didn’t come out. Which was disappointing,
because the game warden is sexy, and on a hot
day with storms and pink pillars and death
I like to imagine him, his big hands and brutal mouth,
(even if I’d probably hate his politics) taking me,
up by the sumacs.
“Taking me” is a funny phrase.
Take me where? Afterwards one is always still here.
As the body of the fox is here, needing a burial.
We dug a grave and said “now his watch is ended,”
and I saw his bared teeth, the sores on his body.
My daughter covered the earth with flowers.
Strange that he came to us to die. As though
Death is where we meet, where we take ourselves,
Where we can be taken. As though the fox needed words.
But really it is we who need the words, and we give them
hoping that at night when the fox rises in his brand new
golden coat and rides like a king to his throne,
he will not judge us too harshly.
R. Bratten Weiss is a farmer and writer residing in Ohio, USA. Her poems have appeared in several publications, including Two Hawks Review, Convivium, Jesus the Imagination, Figroot Press, and a chapbook, Palaces of Dust. She also writes non-fiction on feminism, religion, culture, and ecology, and blogs regularly at Suspended in her Jar. She works as the editor of Convivium, an arts journal.