- To Lead a Pig Skyward, and: Late July, Willard Ave. Apt. 2, and: When the Cowboy Visits You at Night, and: Too Much or Nothing at All, and: Strays
To Lead a Pig Skyward
I read a pig can’t look up.That you’ve got to gentlytilt their heads backif they’re going to take inthe night skies. I neverled a pig skyward lateat night in Pennsylvania.Earthbound is probablybetter. We all startgetting ideas when welook up, and the pigs,they always seemed sopleased where they were,rooting in soft earth.No need to look up for Godwhen the holy was there,beneath their trotters, coolbelow the autumn archerthat was rising, lightly,on the eastern horizon. [End Page 119]
Late July, Willard Ave. Apt. 2
I’ve got two good handson late summer. Got oneegg in butter, one cast ironon the burner. Two sweat-glazed hands on bluecountertop, one good footon the tile—and a dog gonetaken up her howling.God, those great storm-clouds are building,half-promising could-berelief. I’m straight nakedin my kitchen. I’m livinga whole life; the cloudsare just a bonus. I’ve beenshouting hallelujah in aone-bedroom attic.It’s 91 degrees on thesefloors. Hallelujah. Godherself is a naked woman,sweat-shining, sticky,frying eggs and tossingkale stems to herragged little dog. [End Page 120]
When the Cowboy Visits You at Night
Tell him he can leave his boots under your bed.Tell him you buried something wild beneathan ocotillo plant, wrote a woman’s name therein the sand, and watched it blow away in the wind.Tell him you know his horse’s name.Tell him the horse is three-legged and stakedoutside your ground-floor apartment, and he’sslow-gnawing on your neighbor’s carnations.Your neighbor’s name is Rita, and she’s old.She drinks Bud Heavy beneath the stairwell.When the cowboy visits you at night,show him your praying-plant, how it closes upwhen the sun goes down, and the sun goes downearly on the East Coast. This will be new to him.Show him moonlight on your sourdough starter.Take his hand, place his palm on the backof your small dog. Show him gentle.Show him the damp dawn that only breaksin the east, that this side of the country can bewide and wild, especially on the slopes ofAgiocochook, where you saw your first mooselumbering on the trail to Mount Isolation.The cowboy loves to shoot the shit.The cowboy loves a good story, almost as muchas he loves to leave before sunrise withyour words strong under his tongue,riding a nameless horse who keepsRita’s carnations warm in his deep belly. [End Page 121]
Too Much or Nothing at All
It is spring. I left the pumpkinsrotting outside all winter, and nowonly their caved-in shells are left.Gloveless, I toss them over a hill.There is a gap in my screen door—at night, the mosquitos find me alone.What a great woman I am, nameless.Maybe I was magnificent—once,but maybe only once.Now, pumpkins rot on my porch.
Anyway, who would really wantto be great? Great women are unhappy.They don’t kill spiders in their own showerswith their Dollar Store bottles of shampoo,or have sex in basement game rooms,or eat Skippy straight from the jar witha plastic spoon, late at night, braless.Yes. I have what it takes to be average.These are the things I tell myself at night,alone, and quiet. [End Page 122]
It is all very much the same.You love a girl.You are washing clothesin a 24-hour laundromatthat doubles as a sandwich joint.It is late, or early. It is the wrong hour.It is 2 am and there is a stray cattle dog pacing,stalking bent moonlight between dryers.There is howling in the parking lot...