Home > Poetry > Every Part of the Animal
Published: Wed Apr 15 2020
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Every Part of the Animal

_                Cervical being
        of the neck (cervix) and not
of the deer (cervus), though
_       _ one might bend hers grace-
ful as a willow branch
_       _ when she drinks from the river.
I would only wrap my hands
_       _ around the neck of that deer
if she asked it of me, and even
_       _ then I would use only the
most necessary strength,
_       _ watching for the flutter of her
lashes, her eyes wide and
_       _ flickering toward
the soft white spots
_       _ dappling the sky. Is that
nostalgia parting her mouth—

_       _ it is nostalgia, yes,
I’m sure of it, but
_       _ for what? Air? The river?
It doesn’t matter. I would watch her
_       _ face for fear like a predator
watching as her cubs starve,
_       _ my hands gentle as she’d
allow me to be. One
_       _ pressing down around
the throat, one aligning
_       _ itself with
the spine. We both came
_       _ to the water to be found
by the water. Here, joy
_       _ is the only hunter
and pleasure the butcher-
_       _ ed meat, though it runs
through the trees before it’s caught
_       _ by our snared bodies,
all of us hungry, and
_       _ limping from older wounds.

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Jaz Sufi is a mixed-race Iranian-American poet and arts educator. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, AGNI, Birdfeast, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. A Kundiman Fellow and National Poetry Slam finalist, she is an MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow at New York University. (updated 4/2020)

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