Three Poems by Julia Wendell

 

Retriever with Carcass

She barely raises her head
to leer at me from the hooded
corners of her eyes.

I’ve given up taking away her loot—
the ribcages and quarters
lazy hunters didn’t cart away.

This late season, as light thins
and trees spend their leaves,
I flinch

when you pad up behind me,
tasting rut and musk on my neck,
light from the half-open blinds

slicing me in two.
I want to want,

though I can’t will it.
Maybe that’s enough.

 

Spontaneous Blindness

“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
—John Milton, “On His Blindness”

 

I learn to keep it closed,
resigned to what vision I have left.
Abridging the circumference of my world,

I swivel my head like an owl
to scout for prey,
or read the verso of any page.

I struggle with stronger lenses,
an eye patch, a focused reading lamp,
before accepting good enough.

For now, this is my life.
Walking the dog, who cares
if it gets too dark—

we Braille our way across the farm road
to Ned Halle’s pond. My ancient Daisy,
whose pale limbs are stained

from so much napping,
pads happily
through the chatter of corn stalks and cattails.

She eases in like my mother
at the pool,
when I still had a mother,

wading slowly into
the shocking cold,
waiting for me to follow.

 

Exhuming the Kings

1.

Mother knocks
on her coffin, rousing Father,
Jack, roll over, you’re snoring.

He can’t hear her,
any more than I can.

Deaf
until stars fall from the sky.

 

2.

I’m guessing
it is already snowing
in Kinzua Country

on that cemetery hill
overlooking the refinery
where my father trudged compliantly
for forty years, cat cracker clouds
straining toward their look-alikes.

 

3.

She bangs gnarled fingers
against satin lining, trying
to nudge my father into action,
sips water

dripping through a seam,
catches the rest with a spoon

so it won’t
ruin her foundation.

 

4.

I take a spade,
tamp around the headstones,
as if planting them in snow.

All the things I could have done.

The wooden handle
breaks, the latch hangs.

 

5.

A decade later,
she’s still where I left her.
How do I close the lid,
slip her back where she belongs?
There, yet not there,
not a hair out of place.


Julia Wendell’s most recent poetry collection is Take This Spoon (Main Street Rag Press, 2014). She has been a Yaddo Fellow, a Bread Loaf Fellow, a multiple Pushcart winner, and is the winner of the 2015 Consequence Magazine poetry prize. Hard at work on a new nonfiction book as well as a piano/poetry video, she is still riding and competing when doing neither of the above.

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