When the mink ran across the meadow in bunched
black parabolas, I thought
sine and cosine, but no —
the movement never dips
below the line. The creature vanished
into barberries. Absolute
predator who cracks a rabbit’s spine
in one bite. And my mind
leapt along a track to a summer field
where I walked years ago
to a stony spit out into the North Atlantic
with a young man I hardly knew, and his sister.
He was bald, dying
of a brain tumor. I ignored
his illness and we spoke of history.
He was gentle, scholarly. Why
do I remember him
when it was his sister I painted seated in tall grass,
her forehead wide, brown hair framing her face,
ocean a cobalt swatch behind?
Islands humped in little arcs across the bay.
That canvas is stacked in a closet.
But it’s the dead boy
I’ve stored inside me all these years,
scared of the otherworldly light
around his eyes. Scared and ashamed
of what I didn’t know. Ashamed of my fear
that made his death, when it came,
unspeakable. So history bounds
into the present, glitter-eyed, with musky anal glands
and daggering eyeteeth. Because that boy
wasn’t dead: he must be killed again.