You must want something more
That is the only way to begin.
You must slip inside the animal you will slaughter,
flesh sliding over flesh, the gore stripped
from the bones, the bones sharpened into knives,
the knives sewn into the loose, bloody hide
of the animal killed and gutted.
You must put on her sticky, porous
and run. That is the only way to begin.
You must love death, you must fall
in worship at the sound of death coming.
The bone knives clatter, bleached clicking wet teeth;
the sinews stretch
and sing—your body is its instrument—your legs
a mouth, humming, you drink
and dance and undress, until your skin
is flecked and twitching
like hers. You must want something. You must
love the body, desire it; you must want,
more than anything, for the body to continue.
Look, just above you
your anger perches, mangy and full of noise,
clutching at some weak, bare limb.
Your anger preens itself
because it is afraid of ruin;
it pretends indignation over every moving body.
You must know this already.
You would sing arias
in praise of blood, but your bloated anger
chokes, its damp skin pimpled and diseased.
It delineates, scorns
the living with a grinding throat. The carcass drips
cold fat, and your anger eats, imagining
the dead are clean and quiet.
Do not be ashamed. The killer
is not this anger you imagine,
he is a lover.
He seduces death—he rubs the bones slowly
against the grinding stone, turns them over in his
hands. He undoes haste with the patient rhythm
of his body working.
You must not hurry away from this.
Stay and listen. He knows
where the animal lives,
how her blood and bones move. He knows her
lungs, the lust of her legs when they are working,
the sweat and the sound of her attention
drawn up sharp.
With his stillness, he makes space, too, a vessel.
Even this separation
holds two bodies quietly until they lose
their shape, until they move
the way sound moves in water, passing
itself along like surrender. He works
the tender thread in and out, tightens
the closing knot, and in that slipping sound,
the animal hears death coming.
That is how to begin. Now, run.
Run into the open, run tangling with the mute,
thick harmony of muscles,
or laughing, or singing blessings over bone, run
until the meat of your body becomes wind,
rain and heat, each stride a storm
shifting skin and blood, the face, the thighs,
the easy bonds of proximity, run until death
collects around you, clinging offspring
of your desire, sweat along the nape or brow,
run until you learn to kill
and suffering, until your body trembles
like a landscape beneath thunder, trembles with limbs
rustling, thrashing, until nothing
can withstand you, until everything opens
before you and the threads come loose and the knives
fall away, run
until her flight can finally undo you, until you feel her
blood loosen sweetly when it touches yours, until
you have slit her throat
and gutted her, until you have put on her skin
as if it were your own
and let it take you
This poem was first published in The Particular, Fall 2008: Second Person & You. For more poetry and short stories, check out our page on Facebook, or email the.particular.mag [at] gmail [dot] com for a free .pdf file or information on receiving a print subscription to upcoming issues.