But it’s strange to kill / for the sudden feel of life. / The danger is / to moralize / that   strangeness.  —Robert Hass

Do you know a strangeness deeply or well? I sometimes feel things, as though I too, possess the sensitive vibrissae of a wildebeest or wild boar. I know I don’t know you, in the animal sense, or in the sense that we are but friends that haven’t yet met, or in the sense that we are twins of light and matter, containers, each, of our highly specific toxic concoctions. Is it strange? To kill for the sudden feel of life? One animal supposes. One animal supposes she is on the one hand born to it. Her whittled spines and grinders for tearing and terribly gnashing. Her industrious microbiome. One supposes this is not the whole story. One recalls the domination of flora and fauna, of female beasts like me: the stripping, the naming and caging. The separation of sense from sense. I cannot live with myself. To tear and gnash the flesh of another whom I have not had the will to kill, to eat these bodies and eggs, to prefer breast to leg. And the rest of it—in truth I cannot see the danger of it. Already I kneel down, say: oh hey there, pretty buddy, hey there, good boy.


Ellen Welcker’s second collection, RAM HANDS, is forthcoming in fall 2017 from Scablands Books. Her first book, The Botanical Garden, was selected by Eleni Sikelianos for the 2009 Astrophil Poetry Prize (Astrophil, 2010). She lives in Spokane, WA.

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