LAST SONNET FOR MY BELOVEDS
At the end of the relationship,
we were not sour.
I was the apple, you were the plum.
Or you were the cowbird, I was the nest.
We could not be apart together.
Sweet invader, I was the wrong country,
I was the stronghold, I was the armory.
Or you were the charity, you were the bed,
you were the bill folded into a palm,
and I was the indigent too proud.
Still I see you in every passing taxi.
Still I see you engraved
on the world, wearing a bracelet
given to you by another lonely month.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want. I shall give want over
to the goats. The Lord shall tie a bell
around my neck. The Lord shall send
a dog to keep me on the path.
The Lord shall drench me
to protect from blowfly strike.
The Lord shall take shears to others
before me, but I shall be shorn,
and my wool sold to the temple.
My wool shall be kept separate.
The Lord shall lead me, balded,
barren, to the paddocks,
shall let me shake, wretched and cold.
How many of us shall have our feet
trimmed by the Lord and his wild hands?
The Lord shall whisper to me
my purpose, and I shall never
understand. The Lord’s dog
shall bare his teeth at us.
The Lord’s hands swing wild,
and he wild, with moonshine.
Bless us, O Lord, but where
should we go, if not this field?
Foxes slink on their bellies in it,
hoping to slough off their coats and perhaps,
if the gesture might cool them, the skin underneath.
Bolts stream across the sky, which seems ready
ready to undress, to pour out the gathered clouds,
but its lightning is an empty threat.
Dogs limp through the grasses,
mustering all the hunt they have in them,
but it seems to coax all their ardor
right from their hanging tongues.
It curls in the attics like rattlesnakes.
The barns are thick with the weight of it.
ROSS WHITE’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Best New Poets 2012, Poetry Daily, and others. With Matthew Olzmann, he co-edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series (Bull City Press, 2012). He was the 2012 recipient of the James Larkin Pearson Prize from the Poetry Council of North Carolina and has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Read more work by Ross White:
Poem in Boxcar Poetry Review
Poem in Waccamaw
Two poems in The Collagist