Jennifer Boyden, “Orectic”


From the throats of herons and lost wolves,
we learn of a mistake made by the gods.
They gave us red-winged birds and vesper
sparrows who make songs of leaf-light
and flying. The gods thought we’d be so happy—
all that fruit, one big garden,
our nakedness in sun and water.
They never counted on our needing a sound
for longing, too. They gave that to the loon,
to wild dogs whose teeth throb
from the light of the moon; they poured it
into the long necks of birds. How could they
have known? Where in our bodies
would they have moored the slender cry of the crane
who calls out that night is closing the sky,
taking away the glinted green
of the frogs’ moist backs, the dazzle the sun makes
of every hair, of every shining wing?

The Mouths of Grazing Things is the most recent recipient of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, which has been awarded annually since 1985. You can also read another of Jennifer Boyden’s poems, “Inside This Next Vase, Likely,” at Rattle, and three more poems (along with an appreciative essay) at Whistling Shade. (Weston Cutter, the author of that essay, expands on his admiration of Boyden’s poems at Corudroy Books.)

Orectic, by the way, is an adjective meaning “pertaining to desires and their satisfaction.”

15 March 2010 | poetry |