The Arrow of the Angel Had Gone Too Deep; Oster, Oxter

Catherine Staples

The Arrow of the Angel Had Gone Too Deep

R.W. Emerson

The deep wound of not having a brother:
perpetual ache in the shoulder’s blade,
the bare plateau where scapula
might attach to coverts if ever once
we had wings. There at the rib’s ledge:
the severing place, a hollow, a gouge
and, ever after, a smoothed-over scar.
Just so, lichen scars a rock, blankets
the hollow places where rain collects,
ribs them in wings and florets, gray-green
disguises where alga and fungus thrive
on bare rock, immune to heat and drought
and sorrow; the perpetual ache in the shoulder’s
blade, the deep wound of losing your brother.

Oster, Oxter

That the hollow above the collarbone
should share its origin with the armpit

seems a linguistic confusion. The one
a way station where kisses might pool

like rainwater, óster, óst, along the clavicle
ridge; the other rife with morning’s labor,

two heels on the lug, rocking the shovel
deep, deeper, rhythmically turning earth.

Sharp beads of sweat, proof of intent.
First the daylilies, then the rose. Dozens

of seeds where rows of dying, spent
boxwoods stood. Jimmied loose, lugged away,

cracking at it each day, the body’s wheeling
confidence with the right sort of work:

the good labor of tilling and planting earth,
auguries of night, kisses along the clavicle’s rim.

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