Claire Hero

& preyclaw. Half-wild, I shrank
from its grasping, the moon scything
through fir limbs. Half-tame, I
heard the scuttle of blood—

                                        Crackbone, I
followed your footsteps.

I followed your footsteps, I opened the night-box,
I scalped the meatbeasts, I bewildered my body
with hair and claw—
                                        humping the sacrifice
through the chambers of night

And still the forest continues, the linespeed
never slows. I am up to my ankles,
hand cramping on the knife,—

                                        Where is death?
Where does death enter our lives?

Death is a house inside the forest.
Come. I am made of many doors.



What doesn't fear my hands? The crush of my thumb, my fingers that make a fence. The deer stand on one side, watching. Among the trees they are hard to see, their skins smell of leafmould. If they would let me, I would trace the grain of their pelts, its marks like a secret language. I would put my hands upon them, and their eyes would roll white.

          —And then we are in a green room, the stag and I, his brown eye turns like a globe, leaves fall around us.
          The leaves, then the trees.
          The trees fall around us. We watch them through the window. The trees fall, and then the deer fall. I want to speak, to stop this, but my voice box, I see, is in the palm of my hand, closed as a seed. First the antlers fall, then the hides dry up and blow away and the bones erode until they are only eddies of sand. The stag closes his eye.
          Out of the wreckage, deer-shapes of light rise and walk toward us. They walk through the window, they walk through the wall, they walk through every fence I make between us.

. . . . . . . . .

                              . . . the antlers are heavy.
          They drip blood into my eyes.
          They bow my neck until I am doubled,
          until I am savage, and forest, and endless.





I write for myself and beasts. Often it is difficult to distinguish between us.