Temper as a Porcupine; Nothing but her Velvet Self; His Undoing

Lee Sharkey

Temper as a Porcupine

A man reached for an apple      the tree withdrew from his grasp
A red-faced interval      apple on a feral tree
An abandoned homestead      foundation stones in the midst of
field and gardens      revert to woods
rusted plowshare and coulter      bridle ring and a length of leather
A red-faced interval
A woman stands      unmoving before her window
watching it gorge itself      on windfall apples
turning them in its hands      compellingly like a human’s
She feels them      stitching across her chest
How he wanted that apple      how many apples? how many stolen apples

Nothing but her Velvet Self

A girl in a lantern slide      sheared from fire
travelled a century      with the gift of tears
What do you want dead one      Remember Rose
a flammable girl      newly arrived but already singing
Better to sleep than eat      Remember Rose
when contempt would not even      speak the word would silence
salt      pigment
the lock with the charred      shot bolt
how many rise to grief      Remember Rose
eager      striking out
wool trimmed with velvet      fitted to bones’ white horses

His Undoing

The sky is a vast wing      you can smell it
lie down over the length of you      become a horizon
First kissed of your father      but never his best beloved
Self-exile asleep in the desert      hip jut and shoulder the mountains’
      bones
Dream-stone for a pillow      from a distance a stranger arrives
All night you lie wrestling with him      believing that effort becomes you
your flocks will multiply      earth groan under the weight of you
Esau will weep at the sight of you      With one finger you lift the
      stranger’s palm
it balances      where a nail might enter
The stranger touches      the flesh that is always in shadow
No earthly power could have remained intact

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