The rottweilers bunch in their muscle
& mass-- their mistress
Quickens in bed, poulticed
By stain, repetition of stain.
I want them all, all of the gods.
Like the small peach the vaccination
Leaves in its imprint on skin--
Little oracle-- pugnacious
& sweet. I have never been taken
Like this-- a coal mine
Gone blank past the last night
The last metal-caged light
Was snapped out. Bird folds its wing.
In the absence of game,
Dog will eat dog.
How I wish the wolves
Would return to the city, monotonous
& tender in their monogamy.
The city. The courting. The gate.
Even now as the gate opens, I startle.
You enter suddenly & I am nowhere again.
In a mistress' bed, I am
Constant as a null Iraqui coin, worn
Down on its side, by Euphrates,
The Tigris, all of the gods.
Then in the glass window of a streetcar, a godhead
Passes on, gone from this will for living on like a book
About a book, rote & morphinic
As a wetnurse travelling immune
With her small black bag on the train
To a minor city to feed some other's young
In the blush of antibodies, passing on.
Dear One, I have woken in the wingspan
Of a butcherbird, hung on the barbs of bad
Dreams like a metal rail fashioned out of thorns.
Odor of petrol, odor of hemlock bowing down, as the train
Passes from the city's circumferences of wire fence past
Recognition to an old World, I will be immuned
To knowing it. Do not forget this kind of tenderness.
Lucie Brock-Broido is the author of two books of poems, A Hunger and The Master Letters. From 1988 to 1993 she was a Briggs-Copland Poet at Harvard University. She has taught at the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Princeton University, and is currently Director of Poetry in the Writing Division at Columbia University. Her poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including the Denver Quarterly, Harvard Magazine, The Paris Review, and The New Yorker. She has been awarded a Guggenheim and most recently an NEA grant. Lucie Brock-Broido lives in New York City and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.