The Animals Reply to Saint Francis

Yours is not that familiar space
birds fly through,

the guileless air they enter
with their feathered bullet-torsos
and their penny-whistle bones.
Even though your shoulders unflinch
for them like trees,
and your arms extend, unflailing,
under their nervous perchings,
still, you feel their beaks
bickering at your feet,
the air slurred from the constant
squabble of their wings.

You ask that no line be drawn
between love and renunciation,
so when the foxes come
to lick your fingers,
their tongues feral and rough,
they’ll leave a wet glove of scent
on your hand
for the wind to caress.

Why have you come to bless them
when only you would change,
repenting each pulled blade of grass,
the air yanked over the heads
of the yellow flowers.

Jeanne Wagner is the recipient of several national awards, including The Francis Locke Award, The MacGuffin Poet Hunt and the Ann Stanford Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in the Southern Poetry Review, Mississippi Review and the Atlanta Review among others. Her publications include The Zen Piano-Mover (NFSPS Press), winner of the 2004 Stevens Manuscript Award, The Falling Woman (Pudding House), The Conjurer (Anabiosis), and forthcoming from Poets Corner Press, Medusa in Therapy. (jeannewgnr@sbcglobal.net)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761