Cruel Story from the North Country


A fork probes for answers to the three endless questions between its tines: What
has come between us?
Why do we kill?
Who is holding the spear?

Inside the fork, light with meat between its teeth is falling.

Ptarmigan for dinner in the Lapp village, the mail-boat slipping out of a fog bank.

The blue dogs are German. (I am still learning to mate.)

Hans had fallen into the unframed photograph of Esther Williams.

Thundering trousers and the moon rising from the glass of milk. (First we feed the

Then I discovered the night I was walking in was already mine. I discovered my
anxious feet.

A slow insistent army marched up my legs, demanding a ration of the stars I had
been harboring.

I fed it berries. I fed it pine needles and snow.
The returning nighthawks have been growing fur.

An old man with a wooden leg riding his donkey to the graveyard, smoking his
pipe in the rain.

One of these is yours: an offering of a handful of wet cheese, a phantom river
wallowing into the dark green sleep, a life grown theoretical with promise never tested.
Far below, fog thick as grayed milk, cod boats moving slowly to deeper water.
My homeland clasped with the icy grasp of the North Sea. A gradual loss of its weathered
skin to the cold bright fingers of water.

I had been knocking on a rock for years. It was only by accident that I discovered
it opens from the outside. (You can only leave once, but you can be forgotten constantly.)

Breakfast and your legs hurting again. His stained white bathrobe sagged open at
his sagging belly.
Endure till it pleases. (Hurrying to help frightens the latent.)

A herd of words milling about in their mangy pelts before speech thaws and they
begin to breed. They’re wiser now, they agree with us, waking into their ancient families.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.