I go the circle of my enclosure again and again.
He picks through the couchgrass, here a black-eared
chat on its nest of blue eggs, and there, in the red clay,
a natterjack bathes its warty back. Henri crouches,
like a scarab in his yellow jacket, and waits.
His son, Little Paul, keeps a birdcage full of peacock moths,
all male. Downstairs a female slips off her pale cocoon
and stands shivering. Wet fur, maroon and white.
On her wings, enormous chestnut eyes. Henri carries her
in a bell jar from room to room. At night he and Little Paul
turn the suitors loose. They storm through the cypress
to the laboratory where they beat against
the white gauze bell.
When the bait is right, anything can find you.
I look across the river this morning where last I saw a grizzly
batting swollen salmon. A black man stands in a thicket
of raspberries, waving. He wears a tweed jacket
and patent leather boots. Perhaps it is the cottonwood bud
I smashed, dabbed behind my neck like bloody perfume.
Mother’s gone of to Maine in search of a secret island
with odd-shaped leaves. She will gather lobster, rub
their green bellies so they hum as they enter boiling water.
On the leeward side she will meet a Rockefeller who
his own boulder-dense lawn. If I stay in one place too long,
grow my hair like a banner, and for the hummingbirds,
a red begonia, whose secret island will I be?
Other than the black man, only one person comes.
An old painter
with a reducing lense, she grades the landscape. The
are a bookcase full of shale and lichen. The trapezoidal
The air that tastes of grape jam. By all standards,
she says, we are sublime.
I myself prefer small scenes. I would have liked Henri.
We could have spent the day together on our hands and
year after year the same weedlot, studying the digger
as she squeezed a wild bee to her breast, then turned about
and licked honey from its gasping tongue.
© Sandra Alcosser