The body is for the taking. Now everything fades into a tree in the middle of a field I never knew. Or perhaps I did, but long ago, or in a dream.
Not that dreaming is kind. It’s not. It’s mean. It takes
the language of the unknown, twists its mouth, looks for a tattoo.
They don’t do that anymore to horses, he said, because if their skin is too dark, you can’t see.
He lifted the lip to show me.
If the mind is too dark, there’s nothing to talk about. You just sit there. You can’t move in a wood that’s overgrown. But maybe there’s homes for birds. And maybe my body wants to eat the birds.
Now they tattoo their necks, but you gotta keep the coat clean, shear it often so it doesn’t overgrow.
He said he wanted me but I had to come to him.
There were nights I dreamed I stepped up a stairway in order to fall into myself.
The body wants to be given-to.
You wait in a field for a horse with a tattoo. You wait for words. The mind wants a clearing.
Fight through branches and you’re gonna get cut. There’s a blood trail.
He waits by the East gate, shifts his feet, rules out other lovers.
A girl tells me she’s waiting for the sunset in a field I should know about.
Wanna eat the birds, she says.
No I’m waiting for a word.
From the sky, she says.
No, from a man.
Oh, I have stars in my skirt.
There’s a blood trail out there, thinks the man by the East gait, waiting for a delivery of horses from Utah. He smiles at the laughing birds. Prairie-kind. Whistling-kind. A jackrabbit hops into an old boot. Waits.
The girl tells me she has stars in her skirt. The sky is widening. Dark understands how to round its mouth around rocks, so they cry out.
Sit with me, she says.
You stare at your palms. The mind hollows out. There’s a field you should know about.
God damn women, thinks the man by the East gait. Lucky if I get one that sings.
Sit by me, she says. There.
The rocks smile, trapped.
Are you waiting, too? I say.
No. I just sit here and think.
The man by the East gate. He wants me.
I think he wants me, too.
You waiting for words?
I don’t know. He said I had to come to him.
You should send him a bird. He likes to eat them.
I thought he liked horses, I said.
Those, too. But he don’t eat horses! Do you see my stars?
They’re in my skirt.
When the mind darkens, the lot grows faint. Nothing in the wood but a flock of prairie birds. They follow the blood trail to the middle of a field I should know about.
It’s getting cold, thinks the man by the East gate. The jackrabbit eats through the old boot. The man shoots it, breaks its neck. Starts a fire. Before the sun falls into the body of earth, he walks to the tree in the middle of the field, nails an ear to a branch. Sing, he says.
I feel it in my belly, the girl says.
I feel it in my head, I say, like a lamp going out.
You see auras, too?
Is that why you came?
I came once. But he left right after.
What do you mean?
Nothing. Don’t worry about it.
You pace the apartment. The wood can’t be entered willingly, but by chance. You once dreamed of a puddle that talked. Water with texts from Him. Floating bodies of words, pale, bloated. Spirits have their own blood trail.
After he feeds the fire, a flock of quail filters through brush, up then down. Can’t fly worth shit, says the man out loud. Bob. White. He says, slowly. Smokes. One of the chicks left the line. Mamma bird whistles. He aims. Shoots. What am I gonna do with you? He says, breaks its neck.
Do you know the names of things, the girls says.
Like stars? You know their names?
You mean the constellations? No.
Orion’s my favorite. That’s the one with the belt.
What does the man by the East gate say to you?
That I’m pretty. He says I have a gift.
Then what does he do?
Do? Nothing. Tells me to name things.
What kind of names do you give him?
Last time he came here, he asked me what dirt was. I said, skin.
Yeah, the girl said, ran her hands through it.
You know, the tattoo on a horse is really a magic number, she says.
Who told you that?
Your headache won’t go away. There’s a horse in a field somewhere you should know about. Tattoo reads 33XO7. You write that down. Drink a glass of water. Mind still dark.
The man by the East gate sees a trailer headed down the road. First the dust, then the metal. Skin, he thinks, touches himself.
Joe, ain’t you a piece of shit! He says as the truck stops.
Both men laugh.
I got you a couple beauties this time. Right off the track.
Lame, or just lazy?
C’mon now, I ain’t a crook. You can do good work with this lot.
Yeah, but can any of ‘em sing?
I was once a horse, says the girl.
Yeah. That’s why I’m gonna be a good woman someday.
What do you mean?
He says I have the body for it. You find any words yet?
No. I’m waiting for a sign.
From the sky?
From a man.