“All the time I pray to Buddha…”

“All the time I pray to Buddha I keep on killing mosquitoes.”

 

— Issa

 

Issa, I killed 8 gophers this fall, held

each cold body in my open palm,

 

stroking the river colored fur between their silent black eyes

before dropping them into a plastic bag.

 

Their little hands were cupped

as if in death they cradled one last thing

 

because nothing does not continually hold

all of what remains, or all of what

 

has been carried somewhere else.

The tunnels these creatures dug in my yard,

 

destroying even the hardiest plants,

will soon be used by voles and rats,

 

and other gophers,

from other yards, that will be trapped and killed, by me.

 

I met a man who hunts elk.

He shot a large buck, and when he was beginning to dress it,

 

just as he made the first cut with his blade through the buck’s neck,

this man opened his mouth to yawn.

 

The neck of the elk exploded, and the cervical fluid

burst from its spine,

 

infecting the man

with a parasite that nearly killed him.

 

Issa, I cannot absolve myself,

cannot clear impurities from my body.

 

You said, A bath when you’re born,

a bath when you die,

 

how stupid.

 

How extraordinary.

 

 

Elizabeth Jacobson directs the WingSpan Poetry Project which conducts poetry classes at local shelters. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Poetry Review, Orion Magazine, Hinchas de Poesia and Ploughshares. She currently teaches in the Creative Writing program at the Santa Fe Community College.

 

 

 

Issue #65 December 2016
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