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A Different Wakeful Animal

David Martinson-Meadowhawk Prize, Red Dragonfly Press


"My body, …
it is not the earth I will miss,
it is you I will miss." – Louise Glück

I say good riddance to my body,
its conspiracy of veins
and bowels and vertebrae.
I can trust a deer to pick its way
through trees, a daffodil
to bully its way through frost. Once,
I saw the silhouette of a baby seal
held inside the translucence of a wave
like a portrait in a locket. How quartz
threads through rock, and a heron
threads through air then lands
and stills to a piece of quartz.
The way even weeds flower. Just now
the dullest brown bird appeared,
clumsy at our feeder, and picked
at soggy seed. I watched the quiver
of its tail while it fed its hunger.
Need I say bodies must be fed?
I say the earth is the body I will miss.
Even if I could only touch it dis-
embodied, send a shiver
down the outstretched limb
of a single eucalyptus.
Even if I could touch down only
in the linear brittle body
of a dragonfly, one evening,
some rank bog, skim
the skin and flit.

--originally in Valparaiso Poetry Review (as "Valentine")