(after Lorine Niedecker)
In the high weeds, I’d bite. Snap the little sticks,
bash a nest in the dying grass. That would be me,
bearing down among daisies and the branched broomrape.
No pity for a babe mean as that—no way to hold her,
no way to hold her back. There she’d go—all bad teeth and flash,
racing in her red swimming suit just out there past
the clothesline pole. Every Monday, wash-day, that’s her rest.
Read something, write. She’d turn instead to hunting game—
rabbit, chipmunk, vole. Can’t blame her for her bite.
Here she’d come again, all up and down in rows,
the air afloat with fur like foxtail chaff or pollen
from the paper birch. Yellow jackets in a storm beh ind her,
a cloud of hard words, disturbed. She wouldn’t feel them,
couldn’t hear, aside from her own voice, any whirr or bird.
Deaf’ s a child I would love, all the same, crouched there
among the destroyed flowerbeds. The fire in her, all that verve.
The crooked paths she’d dog all day and never hear love calling.
If she did, still never angle, never even swerve.