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. Unbearable thingness of things—an extinction of frogs, a betrayal of need.
Memory in stones and the lace of too-white edelweiss in mourning, our mistrust a waterfall 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
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.