I’m carving a language between the horse and the numbers,
he said, and tossed another fallen branch in the barrow.
The mountain dogs fought over a jawbone before collapsing
beneath the shade of the hewn deck. My cousin showed me
how to cut water. I did not think about the coyote or how it died
beyond the clearing, behind the bone-colored wasps’ nest.
Before the bone-colored wasps’ nest, my father throws rocks,
tossing bits of stone at the danger in the air. I am not aware
of the danger, do not associate the stonewhite hive with life
or with insects. The air turns a smattering darkness, sounds
like thousands of tiny bullets. I do not know what a bullet really is,
though I have watched many cartoons. He grabs my arm and we run.
The catacombs in Paris smell like my grandfather’s basement
but beneath Paris, there are no dangerous machines, no vices
or jigsaws. My grandfather built a cabin. He built a basement
beneath the cabin. In dark of the basement, I wound my hair
into a gear, was cut free with a knife by my uncle. My mother screamed
at the shortened tuft, wailing as if damage could never be unmade.
Andrea Kneeland’s first collection, the Birds & the Beasts, is forthcoming from Cow Heavy Books. Her poetry has most recently appeared in alice blue, Wonderfort, Vinyl Poetry, MudLuscious & FRiGG.
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