Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"Four Hawks" by Emily Skaja

circle the same mile of Indiana where I force myself to look

at every dead deer on the road, as if that braces me, as if I believe
it will protect me from losing anything good.

I can't stop dreaming I'm hiding

my own prints in the snow, convinced
my mouth is a metal trap, a part of it, apart

from you, & when you pull me awake
it's because I'm lining my body with burrs,

because I'm antlers & talons & I know

the smell of cedar is home, is a ring of sky
I love, but I can't take it when

you say Only deer, only hawks.

Why is there nothing wild in you
to explain it, nothing killing; why

am I the chased thing horrified
to overtake myself in the brush I wonder &

if a deer darts across this road & the dead don't

take it, don't the dead wait, don't I know,

don't the dead always covet something running?

I count bodies like cold days in March.

Ten, eleven, twelve--& you
with the map unfolded, following the sky.

I wonder if you & I are twin limbs
of something running.

If you & I circle.

Credit: Emily Skaja, "Four Hawks" from Brute. Copyright © 2019 by Emily Skaja. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Emily Skaja's first book, Brute, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets (Graywolf, 2019). She holds a PhD in Creative Writing & Literature from the University of Cincinnati and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Memphis.

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