But what could the singing do?Until I was forcedI buried my hum in sleeves, teacups, never didI let it ravel down. Never did I let its feettouch the floor. I was afraid. I atemy corn in rows. Whenthey made me sing I shook. Even aslittle bits of light burned through me. And then the whole blind woodburning, burning, the terrific hot humbecome verb, all verb, the act of skyand the brutal clearing—
there was once a woman chasedby fire, carrying her baby in her armsas she ran. The fire ran faster. Finally she laid down the childin a field, covered him with the blanket and ran on.The next day she returned to bury him. The fire
is not the singing. I was wrongabout that. Fire is fire.The wolf flung into sleepas soon as the girl began to sing.I crept away and he awoke.Another song, another hour’s distance.I began to learn its measure. Like rope,like a wick. I was the only one awake.My father back in the little house at the forest’s edge.Chimney puff puffing. The forest all scribbled black. [End Page 615]
You ask what about the baby.Oh he lived. He was completely untouched.This is all true. You tell mehow I should fear anything now.
There was another song we used to sing.It sounded like the frogs somewhere in the yard.It was not purposefulbut rode in on us when we were openinga milk carton or emptying dirt.I won’t sing it for you.I won’t even whistle it.This doesn’t mean my language is disappearing.It means I have found a way to breakglass into a spiderweb.The fragments slip past as only fragments can,little snatches of song, a humthat one must be careful around.I could never be this sharp,this dangerous, this collective,had I not been broken. [End Page 616]
You’re not from here.No one here remembersyour unnerving birth, the body too big
for the bed. Hems let out early.How it became impossible to claim kin.
To sing along. Well the foresttakes anyone. Your tarp bellies the rain,then funnels it down. One cup, one bowl,
some Whitman. What else? A ravenoushunger for what is not yours. Which
is everything. To make the horizon look real,you learned, show your distance from it.Now resolve the distance.
Everything is a pattern.
I was alone in the woods. I burnedwhat I had. And then I burned the rest. [End Page 617]
Megan Snyder-Camp has two new poetry collections out this fall: Wintering (Tupelo Press) and The Gunnywolf (Bear Star Press).