Mary Jo Bang, p.1


What she needed was
a bird, a beak, something rockhard that could break
the crystalline cold that encased her (tap, tap, tap,

against the tin-
ny window). Pleasure a votive for memory, a motive
candle at the shrine of the one who’d refused

to be begotten. He sat looking back
over his shoulder at the building. It was crude
cathexis that had brought them there.

Did she wish, he wanted to know?
Sure she wished but—
He was covered with cat fur, a feral found

behind a stack of firewood, red feathers flecking the snow,
a mouth tasting of sacrifice. Crimson minutes. Tiny ticks
in the cat’s fur removed with tweezers.

Each leaving a purpural mark. A purple trade,
this for that. Scar
for what they’d done once. An impulse

to unrest the surface, the earned quietude, flitted
but then it did what it did, it fled.
Took flight. That bird at the wheel,

over the lintel bridge, while through the door
a tide. A tap turned, a floodgush sweeping
them down the hill. They sat. Stunned there.