All of the animals are where they don’t belong. They don’t know how to get to their mothers who will kill for them and lay their dinner at their feet when they find their way home.
I do not have a totem animal. I do not have a compass.
There is fire in every tall building. Eighty boys have already gone missing.
Somewhere strangers are gathering, which could look like the beginning of a riot.
We don’t have to do anything about it.
That means that we can be happy with bashfulness and endlessness.
The good news is there is no reason to make the bed. Bloodwork is another useless poem.
Whether we wanted to know it or not, there have always been devils everywhere.
Birds are them. Horses are them. You are them.
What musculature. What flight.
We gather the lizards and snakes, undress for kinship.
What to serve for dinner with just one white tablecloth left, no spell to make bread infinite.
A coyote returns to my yard every night, sits under the barren olive tree and stares.
I stare back.
We talk to each other telepathically.
I lost my hunting partner, he says.
I lost my loving partner, I say.
If I could sell my eyes to a child obsessed with outer space and convince him they were ancient yellow moons, I would, he says.
I would build a fire out of the money and burn myself in it, he says.
If I could sell my heart to a surgeon obsessed with mourning and convince him mine was an ancient parable of wanting, I would, I say.
I would build a god out of money and bury him, I say.
We are both rotten and gentle, he says.
We are both animals and children, I say.
At the same time, we imagine a dog carcass in the yard.
He eats its organs as I curl up behind it, my bloody fingers combing its hair.
Every barn has become a church to worship storms in.
If I gathered all the unsharpened pencils from backpacks, I would build a golden silo that worshiped lemons or sunlight, whichever lasts longer.
The first time a boy took off my shirt was in a tractor for sale on the side of a road. Inside of it, we felt so human we cried.
If I told his friends about this, he said, he would die.
He worshipped me. Until I married, I only made love in machines.
A storm is coming. Or my grandfather is tuning his radio from the afterlife.
If I stayed awake for weeks, I could take down every fence left standing and build a church so large the living and the dead could hold hands in it as they told each other the truth.
A storm is dividing the sky into sections like an envelope. I want to lick it and seal it shut.
I remember, though, my mother telling me about a girl who wrote a letter to the moon every night before bed, the same question each time: If you can see everything from there, aren’t you the real god? She only loved the taste of the envelope’s glue and died of hunger.
The storm is big enough to destroy imaginary churches.
An emergency announcement was sent from my grandfather, or another sweet dead man:
Close your doors and pile your belongings in the center of the room. Eat your photographs. Bury your dogs. Find one object and memorize it. This is your angel.
I memorized ten.
-- Meghan Privitello is the author of A New Language for Falling Out of Love (YesYes Books 2015) and the forthcoming chapbook Notes on the End of the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). Poems have appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a NJ State Council of the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.