There was fear in the countryside all along
The city was worse. After the break-in,
I couldn’t sleep in my bed. I slept on the floor
in the living room for weeks, like a hound dog:
muzzle flat against the dusty hardwood.
The homeless looked like wild turkeys
meandering, pecking and skittish.
The night the police came
and took the old man off my porch,
he spilled his coffee and cried.
That man became a jay, flying behind
me when I moved to the country.
Here the door is unlocked, but every time I see you,
you tell me that another animal is dead.
I am a new farmer, scratching out holes like a hound dog.
The buried seeds come up slowly and are eaten by the animals.
The buried animals came up quickly when they’re eaten by the animals.
Our broody hen searches the egg boxes for her ghost chick.
The chicks that lived have mites and they’ve eaten all the flax.
Every time I hear a jay cry in the pine trees,
I count the animals. The duck baby comes back to life
promenades dumbly through the tall grass,
only to be carried off by a hawk a second time.
Maybe it was a phoenix and I wasn’t patient enough
for the magic of renewal. The table and the knife
and my finger bones are all straight and flat.
I know and understand that the horizon is curved,
like the earth, and is part of a circle,
but that doesn’t stop it from looking straight and flat.
The Last Griffin is holed up in the Cascades
eating food he steals from campers.
Sealed inside aluminum trailers, they watch
TV while he trots up to the camp table,
slowly unwraps hotdogs from their packaging
with his amber beak.
He takes his prize back to the dark forest,
and under a woody huckleberry bush
he pulls soft bits of meat out of the casing.
It’s getting to be late summer, the pines
whisper and rattle at night. Hints of winter rain:
tenacious fungi sprouting up under
yellowing broad-leafed maples.
Isn’t that just so, the Griffin thinks, tracing
a velvety mushroom with his beak. Everything changes.
Even Winter barges in without asking for magic.
About the author:
Rebecca Olson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s creative writing program and is currently a poetry MFA student at Oregon State University. When she is not teaching composition at Oregon State, she works as assistant editor for CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. Her poetry and photography have been published in Women in REDZINE.