Friday, May 16, 2014

Poem of the Week: Gretchen Primack

Photo by Deborah Degraffenreid

The Dogs and I Walked Our Woods,

and there was a dog, precisely the colors of autumn,
asleep between two trunks by the trail.
But it was a coyote, paws pink
with a clean-through hole in the left,
and a deep hole in the back of the neck,
dragged and placed in the low crotch
of a tree. But it was two coyotes,
the other's hole in the side of the neck,
the other with a dried pool of blood below
the nose, a dried pool below the anus,
the other dragged and placed
in the adjoining low crook, the other's body
a precise mirror of the first. The eyes were closed,
the fur smooth and precisely the colors
of autumn, a little warm to my touch though the bodies
were not. The fur was cells telling themselves
to spin to keep her warm to stand
and hunt and keep. It was a red
autumn leaf on the forest floor, but
it was a blooded brown leaf, and another, because
they dragged the bodies to create a monument
to domination, to the enormous human,
and if I bore a child who suffered to see this,
or if I bore a child who gladdened to see this, or if
I bore a child who kept walking, I could not bear
it, so I will not bear one.
-Gretchen Primack   
From Kind (Post Traumatic Press, 2012)    
Used by permission.
Gretchen Primack is the author of two poetry collections, Kind and Doris' Red Spaces, and a chapbook, The Slow Creaking of Planets. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, FIELD, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, and other journals. Also an animal advocate, she co-wrote the memoir The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Penguin Avery 2012).
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sensitive artist said...

Gretchen, this is heartbreaking and beautiful.
Many thanks, Penny Beck

Simone Roberts said...

Gretchen, thank you. You didn't know it would happen, but I am reading all the poems of the week as part of my work at Split This Rock, and it happens that it's not Friday yet, so this is the last one on the blog right now. When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who hunted coyotes. I walk in the woods with my dog all the time. It just happened this way. This is a shattering poem, and I agree.