jennifer militello

I wait for the pity to take effect.

It comes in a pill like a jewel

one only wears to church. It comes

like the fish killed to measure

the depth of the river. It comes

as a voice filled like a glass

with all the forgery such animals

can drink. They see themselves

in it. They mistake themselves

for gods, with the stars in the background

erased. They mistake themselves for

women who dance like half-moths

at the sill. Tense with it, I wait.

The pity begins to take effect.

The darknesses inside me shape,

like a village of soldiers asleep

in a horse. Armed to the teeth.

Armed with such faith.

The little flame begins in me.

I feel it like a bride. I feel it

like drops of blood in the snow.

My skin changes with the suffering

of others. My skin grows changed

with the process of awake.

I love the leap and the touch of day

as it hunts me from the window.

Summer takes effect. A crash

of poppies. The mowed fields like

a smother of elegies. I sip at

the photograph I make sitting

silent, crying someone else’s pain,

my name forgotten, my mouth

a fat remember always saying what

it wants, nerve endings mapping all that’s

offstage as reactions disaster my face.










And the blood is a mad or a fast fast thing.

And the black sing of wind huge against the pane.

Small marrow of wind not wishing us well.


The herds because, by now, the miraculous

are beasts. The loss because we weep.

The long hair of a girl. The slow and blind decay.


Rows of infinite rain blossoming to sound,

gone to husk over the long summer’s seed.

Rows of weeds cracked like bracken lips:


shepherds ending where the wolves begin.

It takes breath to say this kind of stink.

It takes all we remember to know what


we think. No one walks the land behind

the house. No one reads by the light

between cracks. No one is a passenger.


No one knows what such elegy means.

No one in the dancehall can remember

the name of the one they hold, no one


knows the wind has changed, no one knows

the priest has locked the door to the church

and the last of the whiskey was drunk last week.