Night, when I was flying across
the sleep of other lives,
your pet reached out and snagged me
from the balcony, in the web of my cape . . .
This gore lays itself out for your lionheart,
who feels less companionless
nosing over the mousy
bird of me.
I feel, just behind the right shoulder, clean teeth
become my own spare bones,
a synchronous skeleton.
We live together briefly, the tom whispering
in my ear, me tolling
But the arrest weighs on me.
Night’s old neatness mussed. Here I am
indoors, bleeding all over the house-
mistress’s books, everything I knew forever
jounced from place, my slant on things
flattening to the floor. A kind neighbor
drowns me. Phoenix sloshing in a pail.
He drops me on a glacier.
I await the county man
who picks up iced identities.
Death is my address
on the flyway to South America.
And my sound—
like hair after hair uniting on a cat’s back—
migrates among the rabid searchers,
who will find out
I was well.
As is, therefore, your treasured
Sandra McPherson is the author of twelve poetry collections, most recently Quicksilver, Cougars, and Quartz (Salmon Poetry, due 2020). Her latest poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, AGNI, Whitefish, Red Wheelbarrow, Poetry, and elsewhere. Founder and former editor of Swan Scythe Press, she taught poetry for twenty-three years at the University of California at Davis and for four years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collection of sixty-seven African-American improvisational quilts is housed at the UC Davis Design Department. (updated 4/2020)