Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 Poetry |

The Long Bony Faces of the Mules

In an early memory, the heads of two black mules appear out of fog over a single strand of barbed wire. In another, I stand rattling the crib bar, alone, my bottle on the floor. Who threw it? And what was held up to the long bony faces of the mules? Why do I desire to see things as they are without me, or claim as my ancestor the mountain hermit in a cave with no distractions, no companion minds? I don't know. Who wants to know? Back in the days when a child could ride her bike two miles to school on the first warm morning, sweater arms around her waist, the infant leaves unlocked at last, and not think about anything but words for the hard tires striping the litter of fallen buds, wholly absorbed by the spoilage and mystery, I knew nothing of the fences words make in the mind, or that I would devote the first half of my life to building them and the second to tearing them down.

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