Beside the woman is a skeleton, and lacing the woman’s ankles are perennials, white snapdragons with hot mouths. The stillness of Mirror Creek is not swallowed by these flowers, but sits on the tongue. The lovely muscles of anthropomorphized things.
Antlers indicate young male. The dead animal she also makes human: he was a son, a brother. Nicest guy in the pack. He has kind eyes. The type of animal who comforts a room with their silence. The sound of his breathing was a slow whisk, a heartbeat. At night, she doesn’t like to fall asleep alone.
Mold cements his jaw. He rots in mossy balm. The hip bones are large enough to sicken. It’s a hard bowl, porous yellow, winged. The hip bones are of human size, recalls miles of organs. It’s that larger beings do not weld quickly back into mud. A big animal leaves a spacious shell and the shell is strange architecture. Slow decomposition a monument to honor fragility.
Flowers. A sick deer.
She’d come to the creek to pass time, get out of the house, fresh air, and here he was. She’d never known a man more honest about the shelter they create. And the snapdragons won’t make it through winter because they never do. And maybe he loved the taste of their mouths.
She breaks a bone from his leg and replaces her spine with an easy snap, a gentle alignment, as the water dies into its own name, and it was him, she remembers, who said a reflection doesn’t say that we are the same. A reflection says that we happen again and again even as we are already living.
I’m sitting with my dog and I lean to kiss her face. Dust covered—summer is there in her fur. Spider moss, night sweats, tumors. Malignant fibers of god.
On the porch my dog is alert for animals in the field: quail stirring grass, a quiver of deer, the bullfrog’s globular voice. A difference between my dog and I is the intensity of her sensory language, ears piqued like standing thighs, or thirst. And all the while, her body watches my hands attach to her back, rubbing.
I’m wearing oak and August. My skin amplified by sweat, and so to her I span years as a part of the landscape. What is there to say when you actually feel alive? Her and I, as if we’ve loved each other longer than possible.
I rest my forehead against hers, ask if summer is also easier for her. Sun beckoning bodily release. Life’s grip on exhale.
She doesn’t know that I know her body has tree roots within, and that other animals build nests in the sick cells. She is a language I’m learning, which is like craving the screams of a certain bird when it’s 100 degrees. This language ebbs from death. And maybe any word does the same.
You’re watching your mind imagine you were ever a wild thing tamed to notice our crossings.
I tell her: Because some days my mind is sick, and some days I can’t bear it.
No one can bear everything at once, other moments or instincts.
And eventually, the sun leaves. Night, a blue euphony. The field settles around us and she has felt the world make sounds, passing by like minutes. She’s loosing patches of fur and has beady growths on her ears and her teeth have begun to fall out and her legs shake even when she’s laying down. The earth smells like her. If tomorrow she isn’t here, I won’t know what I’m waiting for anymore.