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Wife of Abraham: Why a Dead Animal Still Impresses Me the Most
On any map in any so-called season,
I can recognize myself at least once.
Floods in the West Virginia hills—
I am the wife of the wrong Abraham
caught in a cycle of my mother’s own
blood. I would like to tell her I was
happy then, full of praying mantis
and colorless coal, memories of the
town’s rugged mushrooms and our
family’s dying bee farm, why the floods
on the map are no longer mine. Even
when the carpenter ant bit me and it
felt like the stretch of a beesting,
she spared him. Even when I would
have done anything to snap the chicken’s
neck outside my grandmother’s back
door, I put a bullet in-between the eyes
of a stray dog in Mexico and when
I came home that summer, she cooked
dinner and she washed dishes, and she
wouldn’t look at me. She made holes
in the yellow foam of the car door.
Memories of the stray dog running
backwards across the border, my mother
beguiled by her own wild. Once I had
a body resembling birds, I had a mother
and a father who was driving the car
into the mouths of rotting sycamore,
the owls were on the ground sleeping.
I am afraid that by believing, I could have
been healed. Once I was flesh and once
I was blood, once there was no way
of us ever leaving.
Forty-Some Answers to the Town’s Ladybugs
Sarah Helen Bates has an MFA in Poetry from Northern Michigan University and currently teaches at Southern Utah University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Pinch, Best New Poets 2017, Seneca Review, the Normal School, and Hotel Amerika, among others. Her chapbook, Tender, is available from Diagram/New Michigan Press.
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