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After Another Argument Ive Come to Regret

by Keetje Kuipers

I’ve hung a severed deer leg in the tree behind the house
            so that the dogs, sweet demons, don’t get into it again

and return to gnawing the hair and gristle and rotten flesh
            from the bone. When you and I fight, and sometimes

we fight all the time—politics, toilet seats, and the truer
            contentions they stand in for—I want to walk to the tree

and see again how dark appetites have forced me to discard
            a limb in the crook of an alder at the base of a hill

so crossed with game trails they appear as stretch marks
            on a giant, hay-colored breast. The proverbs

I remember say tenderness, mercy. Make it the leg
            of a child, the perfect black hoof become a pale

sickle of what was such new skin. And the dogs no less
            hungry, no less ready to take their meal.


Keetje Kuipers’s poetry has appeared most recently in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Willow Springs, and at the online audio archive From the Fishouse. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her dog, Bishop. (1/2009)

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