What can I tell you? That I was not wholly
surprised? That a man like him counts on enemies,
in paranoia even courts them?
In his death, the tension of our estrangement
did not lift. Think how a horse, mouth emptied of bit,
given the entire pasture, will choose
to linger beneath the willow, as was the habit,
but without a rider grows confused, led to loneliness,
and will submit to any whip,
even the soft slow whips of the willow it loves.
I can tell you when my knee split
on cinderblock, piled on the porch for some never-
to-be-finished project, I clung to his cowboy shirt
because I wanted him to feel my need for him, though
I felt nothing, running my finger along the injury.
It was then I became less myself, less human, my new
coldness like strength. So if you’re asking if I am
afraid to stay here, in this house, those men
on the loose, I can tell you no. That fear
I suspect I will marry soon. A man to enter the ledger
of pleasures I can count on:
walking through woods when snow makes a perfect
angle with my isolation, and telepathic owls
are all ears: comforting and indifferent.
Paula Bohince’s poems have previously appeared in AGNI, and her poem “The Fly,” originally published in AGNI 59 is reprinted in Best New Poets 2005. Her poems are forthcoming in The Antioch Review, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. (10/2006)