There is so little light left in the field. April rain
rubbing its velvet antlers on the windowscreen,

wind in the trees like the rasp of a hog’s punctured lung,
fog over the ground like a herd of talcumed horses.

Nearly a year since you came to your reward
and it’s hard to believe anything good ever happened here.

I’m dressing fish in the rain.
Scales clot in the sugarspoon, scales sprent like birdshot.

I’m sure you’ve cleaned fish this way too:
split him from asshole to brisket, take the head and the guts come with it.

You know everything I know—the dead always do.
We know a fish is a nimbus in the pond’s darkness, a fish is half light, half stone.

We know the hogs, hungry boys like they are,
love the fish, now unburdened of guts, now lightshocked and quivering.

I have half a mind to stay here all evening leaned on this fence
like a busted wagonwheel, watching the night get chained up in lightning.

Maybe I have it wrong.
Maybe the body’s greatest gift is the lungs no longer have to swell

and the heart silences into a pulp of its own making.
It can be a gift that the body no longer picks itself up just one more time.

The electric fence clicks:
that’s the dead counting stars.

How can I say I only want you to come home?
That I was always afraid when you were?


By James Dunlap