Snow droops the hemlock boughs. A blood patch by the house, warm enough to melt its own impression. Sophie brings a deer leg to the porch, perfect in its severed self-cohesion, and later noses through the gouged-out pelt, gently, her mouth as soft as felt.
Her loyalty is not with us, but with this stretch of spruce and birch, black walnut, oak. The cabin holds heat like a body, imperfectly.
Snow, two inches an hour— we diagram the fire, every flicker. Later in the plow, you say what a farce monogamy is. Your weathered leather hat, graying at the temples.
You think I’ll disagree. In the unbroken dark, a housecat scurries into the bobcat’s path. You build walls of snow, send us slamming into them.
My body is the weapon we both wield.
Sophie whines into the dark. Vanity farms, geldings, red barns trimmed in frost, the river and its tributaries. Your love will be what you make it, a nest of snakes sleeping in the walls. Snow on hemlocks. In the morning, barricaded roads, the frozen hearth.
a broken queue of students
claiming love, the quay
of tethered boats
and in the pines
beyond the burg
the river like milk
through moss-covered cliffs.
of things—an extinction of frogs,
a betrayal of need.
Memory in stones and
the lace of too-white edelweiss
in mourning, our mistrust
stricken by weirs.
This immobilized tributary,
starved for greed.
Rutted hill road, gravel,
affection like a trapped
paw gnawed off.
Tomorrow, I will leave you.
On top of your body propped on rocks by the shale promontory and shadow of the lighthouse with its implications too obvious to limn where foam gathered and broke in the kelp with spits and sprays the sea growing ever more greedy and these are still your environs despite the estrangement your dark eyes darkened by my questions closed with the divided heat of your body beneath me I looked out to where there was no land beyond to that imagined harbor and the island of thirst- easing olives and fish-skinned fruits you promise without meaning to show me and thought of what it would take to make it how far out I could swim on my own if I leapt
Eleanor Goodman writes fiction and poetry, and translates contemporary Chinese poetry. Her work has appeared widely in journals such as PN Review, Los Angeles Review, Fiction, Pleiades, Perihelion, New Delta Review, The Guardian, Cha, and The Best American Poetry website. Her first novel is represented by Inkwell Management. She was a Visiting Artist in Poetry at the American Academy in Rome in the winter of 2012.
Header photo courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources.