On my May walk, I pass Frost
Farm. Maine sassafras leaves,
fairer than summer, tender, pulled
and chewed. The abandoned home-
stead – empty can, serrated edge
pondered against a wrist. My teeth
are green with walking. I pass wild
asparagus, smear mud bear prints
into shoe. I stop beside a wispy hunk
of skin caught on barbed-wire rust.
Young men hooked on fences,
my breath in gaps between bone.
In my life I’ve seen queer things
moving, shadows of outstretched
ribs. Sons, old friends, the cattle –
scraped from muscle. I push a gate,
swinging, take the light-haired patch
from wire, let animals pass through –
as if they are alive. The skin is not a cow.
I name it Matthew. The white-tailed
deer jumps and misses the mark.
The dead dog hunts for what yanked
loose from skin. Burned closet full of
clothes, I wear a spotted wrinkle on dying
hand. A quiet breathing blows beyond
the fence as fiddleheads unwind to fern.
I kiss the hide. Listen. High-pitched
calls, boys that left the farm.
Massachusetts-based poet Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, published in 2016 by Indolent Books and The Unbuttoned Eye, a full-length collection forthcoming from 3: A Taos Press. Among other publications his poetry appears in the Bellevue Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Massachusetts Review and Rattle. Robert is poetry editor with Indolent Books and an editor for the anthology, Bodies and Scars, forthcoming from the Ghana Writes Literary Group. Additional information can be found at robertcarr.org.
Photographer’s Note: So many wonderful lines in this poem. It made me think of old weathered wood and things named what is unexpected.