Home > Poetry > Near the Animals
Published: Fri Oct 15 1999
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Near the Animals

How could he love them if he didn’t name them?

The gardener calls her darlings in Latin and common
English: astilbe, vinca, wild
iris (feral, really; each stray bed a grave
memorial for the fallen house), salvia.

He made a short list of fruits; tree of knowledge, tree of life.

Animals he left to his creation. We don’t call a dog
dog, but Gus, Cosmo, Brooklyn, Maggie.
And often variations: Magpie, Maggles, Maggot.

Also he left the woman
unnamed until the debacle of perfect life was over.

We are so near the animals, darling, sweetie, honey.
Lamb and sparrow. Leviathan and dove.

See what's inside AGNI 50

Joyce Peseroff’s fifth book of poems, Know Thyself (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2015), was named a “must-read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She was distinguished lecturer at University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she also directed the MFA program in its first four years. She blogs on writing and literature at joycepeseroff.com. (updated 4/2018)

Back to top