My defenses were down – this one didn't even knock

Across a Great Wilderness without You
by Keetje Kuipers

The deer come out in the evening.
God bless them for not judging me,
I’m drunk. I stand on the porch in my bathrobe
and make strange noises at them—
language,
if language can be a kind of crying.
The tin cans scattered in the meadow glow,
each bullet hole suffused with moon,
like the platinum thread beyond them
where the river runs the length of the valley.
That’s where the fish are.
Tomorrow
I’ll scoop them from the pockets of graveled
stone beneath the bank, their bodies
desperately alive when I hold them in my hands,
the way prayers become more hopeless
when uttered aloud.
The phone’s disconnected.
Just as well, I’ve got nothing to tell you:
I won’t go inside where the bats dip and swarm
over my bed. It’s the sound of them
shouldering against each other that terrifies me,
as if it might hurt to brush across another being’s
living flesh.
But I carry a gun now. I’ve cut down
a tree. You wouldn’t recognize me in town—
my hands lost in my pockets, two disabused tools
I’ve retired from their life of touching you.

 

 

Keetje Kuipers was born in Pullman, Washington. She earned her B.A. at Swarthmore College and her M.F.A. at the University of Oregon. Her book Beautiful in the Mouth (2010) was awarded the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Painted Bride Quarterly, and AGNI, among others, and have been nominated five years in a row for the Pushcart Prize. Kuipers is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco and Missoula, Montana with her dog, Bishop.

 

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