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Self-Portrait as Porcupine

by Rebecca Hoogs

Out walking, the dog
darts off into the woods,
comes back barbed
as St. Sebastian came back,
arrows riddling his body.
The answer, this time,
is in the unspinning:
arrows re-quivering,
the saint unsainting,
the dog unhurt in reverse.
Even language
dumbs down, and you
go back the way
you came, know less
and less with every step,
as snow snaps back
to the sky, as the stream
retracts its debacle.

You really let yourself go,
settle into a waddle,
and all your quills,
all your big words,
withdraw, become
so small, so close
to your chest,
that soon
they are points
you never made.


Rebecca Hoogs’s chapbook, Grenade, will be published by Green Tower Press in 2005. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Zyzzyva, The Florida Review, MARGIE, Seneca Review, and others. She has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and lives in Seattle. (4/2005)

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