I got it out of your finger at last,
a long wicked stinger of wood.
The paper towels spotted with blood;
the sky outside spotted with stars.
This tremendous sprawling ruined body;
the spraddled limbs, like ships;
my lips gasping in winds to fill
some new Aeolus's bag;
each convulsive clutch of my heart
sending a surge of blood, a tidal bore,
up the rivers as far as little fishing towns
where the trout jump.
No one knows where they found me,
no one knows what to do with me:
a behemoth, an engine of appetites,
with ears spiraling up to heaven, and heels
punching muddy holes for cattle
to drown unwary in the Spring;
my belly swags and whales roll
end over end in its wake;
As I step seismographs
flinch, all over the globe.
We will go to New Zealand to see the Cross;
we will go to Alaska to see the Lights;
we will go to Montana, where the stars are closest;
we will take a tour of the sky, you said.
And all that while
The sliver lay dimly under the skin
like a twig dreaming under the ice.
First the needle, tracing the entry,
widening the wound. You gasp with pain. Smile unevenly.
Then the tweezers, nosing the wood, breaking a bit.
Again, and several tries, till finally
“is it out?” I ask, unbelieving.
“It's out!” you say.
And there it is, a little bloody barb
on the spotted paper towel, a tiny thing.
Great flowering mammals like us,
brought to cringing by a filament of wood
no bigger than a beetle's leg.