Yesterday in the east pasture—
where you would pass your
hours setting snares for quail and hares—
I swore I heard a child crying in the grama grass.
I shuffled the broom bushes and loosed
a rattler. Its unlocked jaws crowned
a cry, a head, fur and ears, a mouth:
A rabbit being swallowed, still shrieking.
I stomped both heads
under one heel.
Mercy is violent but is not violence,
I would have tried to tell you.
That baby-cry in the blue-stem, though:
I thought it was you, Beau,
my one begotten, marrow of my bone,
twenty-two years ago
when you lifted your hand to me
pocked with pairs of holes.
Your whole arm swole.
You whimpered as I drove,
and I fought to unknow
how the venom would move—
clouding your blood,
in your melting muscles,
as if garrulous God
hiccuped half-way through li—ght.
Lie again upon the table, Beau,
while your failing heart, hovering
in the deep dark of your ribs,
dissolves and your venom-thinned blood
of my blood wastes
(your marrow aches to make more)
and spills into your chest.
You die seven times
seventy times before my eyes.
Each time I pray for mercy, for relief,
and am given only a longer grief.
Cover image by Owen Wassell.