Today's poem is by Luke Hollis


Velvet hide of the still lamb's muzzle
and a scarlet-saturated foreleg stretched from the ewe.
In dawn's first clear, pained tones, my uncle,
gloved in off-white rubber to his elbows, sang
a hacksaw against the lamb's vertebrae.

Some deaths are the compassion of morning
—of the hard pasture clawed deeply by the ewe's hooves.
Her head resting on my thigh, I clasped her fetlocks
and trembling neck as she panted, fatigue
mingled with terror, tensing everywhere

in contractions. Once between tassclling corn, I made
love to a woman and held her there after,
no thoughts—staring into the clear eye of August,
a breezeless afternoon absorbing us laid
on our jeans. I remember how strong her cheekbones

and wrists felt, how she buried herself farther
somehow in me. That summer was its own, self-containing
field: hourless walks through her family's pasture,
waking beneath blossoming cottonwoods.
I remember most that shade she carried in her voice, recalling

paddleboats, her grandmother's acreage in
Charlevoix, holidays before her father left her
and her mother, sunny drinks after the annual parade.
Cresting out of herself, she looked up, tense
with blush, parted lips, pain, knowledge, and hatred

from knowledge on the rough earth—all that visible
fear brimming without voice. La petite mort,
the little death, they say, because sometimes crimson
spilling over the Eastern treeline is as cruel
as wondrous—white hands the fields know nothing of.

Copyright © 2015 Luke Hollis All rights reserved
from Birmingham Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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