Animalia

Jane Satterfield Click to read more...

satterfieldJane Satterfield is the recipient of awards in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland Arts Council and Bellingham Review.  Her essays have received awards from Florida Review and the Heekin Foundation.  Her books of poetry are Her Familiars, Assignation at Vanishing Point, Shepherdess with an Automatic and the forthcoming Apocalypse Mix, winner of the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize.  She is also the author of a memoir, Daughters of Empire.  Born in England, Satterfield teaches at Loyola University Maryland.  Visit her online at https://janesatterfield.org.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

— lost the Hawk Nero which with the geese was given away and is doubtless dead for when I came back from Brussels I enquired on all hands and could hear nothing of him —
— Emily Brontë, Diary Paper, Thursday, July 30, 1845

I am done for now with devoirs, the day’s damage
of exercise books & odd vowels on the tongue,

the taxing stamp of fricatives, spilled ink & little
headspace & if I’ve also loved the rues & gardens,

lingering in music hall or gallery, the upshot of
sparrows across the shingled roofs & if I’ve missed

the gritty hearth of home — the crackling fire, pots
hissing on the range, jokes I’m pulled away by pen &

ink when there’s bread to be made, potatoes needing
peeled — then this is my reward: to swim in rabid silence,

to face the fine enigma of empty cage & pen.  It’s true
I’ve long felt most at home in kingdom animalia, am struck

by plumage, bite & bate, alloys of fur & flickering
eyes, a calculating gaze.  Call me smitten, otherwise

elusive, inspecting herbs while geese honk at my heels;
the merlin, Nero, on my wrist, snapping bits of bacon,

choicest cuts of beef.  Chide me, restless, avoiding callers
at the door, cordials, cake & chat.  I’ve sat agog

at morning toast & tea, taken in our household’s general
complaints — the mess, the noise, how my absence made

more work, how the pets ran wild or hung about.
For “lost,” read “let go,” “turned loose”; in absence

of good answers, a quiet conspiracy.  Neighbors hesitate or
turn away; father’s kept busy, my sisters hold

their tongues.  I’ve seen the way the heath will offer up
its savage storms — the heart must be the same:

strange, arrayed, unstrung as any wind-stripped skeleton,
hovering where horizons hang, in the early onset of frost.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *