Made of rock pressed into itself,
pushed northward, a hard turn toward
sky, what the earth allowed when plates
vied for space. And the earth was made
of bodies pressed into themselves, blood
rusted into soil, a hard turn of luck.
We murdered the livestock.
We took down every living thing.
You with a shotgun. Me with poison.
We numbered the deaths on trees,
watched the pyre smoke curl and blacken
and we said it was perfect, said it was a gift
to be divested of light, to be cut to the quick.
Take the flies: already they are blooming
terrible flowers out of the animals’ eyes.
Another Kind of Clay
I enter my own house quietly
and another board gives out.
A coat hangs slack on its nail,
a wanting husk, how the abandoned
return as ash and scatter.
Because grief is both root
and transport, transient silt,
I touch each careful object
for a glint of history, another
kind of clay. We can spend our whole lives
trying to inhabit our lives.
The dogged bondstone holds. Someone
sings. Is singing.
In the Long Grass Kneeling
The outermost skin of the trick: the vanished is
still beholden to the body. What governs us
in departure, what releases. Tethered
to return, lid-beats desperate against
the tower of your sleep, summon
a face to look into for your own.
Instead, waking returns you, mind
stripped down to riverbed. Ear turned toward water,
a coldness you understand: the deliberate grave you made
yourself, a catch of leaves in each hipped bend
like a lingering sickness. You, too, are fond of pretending
to be two people. Sooner or later, it’s necessary
to reconcile what the eye sees
with the image at hand—
lay the surface over the inked stone—
river as given, river as blade.
Susannah Nevison is the author of Teratology (Persea Books 2015), winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry. Her work has recently appeared in Ninth Letter, Southern Indiana Review, diode, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She teaches and studies at the University of Utah.