White scuts flare up & exit, burrows-by-
Escher undermining the buttercup meadow so next
moment I wrench a maidenly ankle & stumble only
to get myself mauled
malleable to the entire collective. Fresh
captive to busybodied ingenious
Tribe Fetterfoot! —adopted, tutored into their gentleservice.
Deportments that once became me, switching off my last
wisp & eyelash, leap away to the ladylikening
limbs & lives of my sisters who’ll do our lineage proud.
Lengthening my absence, goodbye again, goodbye!
Whip-smartly as I’d recite
our father’s maxims & spin our mother’s variants, I knew
everyone knew I’d wed into a stranger story & introduce
the first of a beg-to-differing brood under cabbage leaves.
Not about You
& so on, until the poem attains next
to nothing to say, shakes off its language.
Grandmother, not a tooth in her head & demented,
preferred to finger just the poem’s dripping
hemlock plumage, its fiddleheads up & all too soon
its ostrich ferns chest-high & if there ever
was any poem, illegibly thickened under the fronds.
Which way to turn hasn’t the poem already turned?
Grandmother got on the poem’s nerves,
got on its mountaintop gondolas,
got on its silky trolleys below, trikes & trapezes.
At first her dog tried to call
grandma home but every single
living bark quickened distracted & hustled off.
Of its volition the poem bayed for moons
dodging around some of the planets grandma’d
amassed during her halcyon days. The moon
quickstepped along gravities & skipped solar
loops doubledutch in a memory,
while her dog’s life narrowed down
to a marrowbone tousled with ants in the grass.
Late fall, a hunting season. A killing frost. The poem
rounds up nearly every village stray & prancing
together off they go.
Martha Zweig's collection Get Lost, winner of the 2014 Rousseau Prize for Literature, is forthcoming from The National Poetry Review Press. Previous books include Monkey Lightning, Tupelo Press, 2010; Vinegar Bone (1999) and What Kind (2003), both published by Wesleyan University Press, and Powers (l976), a chapbook from the Vermont Arts Council. Her work has received Hopwood and Whiting awards and is widely published; three poems were featured in Poetry. Her MFA is from Warren Wilson College.