All that week I’d wanted to delve
into the late Devonian, when the order
that had held on 270 million years
began its certain demise. To study
their spiny reign, their hashtag
horizontals, their triple-tined horns.
To do-si-do with their nodes, their spins,
their pits. 20,000 species strong, nearly
every adaptation adventitious to attracting
a mate—periscoping eyestalks, shovels
and scoops fantastically sprung, Liberacian
flourishes and fins—their version of dress
to impress, of petticoats and wigs, of winning
the battle for the sexiest mate. Had wanted
when wanting wasn’t enough. Call Discount Tire.
If you don’t have an author last name, use
a shortened title. Milk, cheese, bread.
Statement of Teaching Philosophy. Forms
for Camp Sealth. When at last bathed,
read, brushed, tucked, kissed, when
put away and wiped, when the house,
except for water surging through pipes,
what I found reminded me of the Romans--
diverse and dispersed, with similar modes
of shucking their mortal coils, in-the-buff coitus
stripped of shame, with whomever, in orgiastic raves
rivaling a Pompeii bath house. Intricately patterned
with curlicues, tubercles, a gill-branched gang
partial to conga lines crescendo-ing, flash floods
upstaging the stiffest, dirtiest martini toasts.
One minute flung out and loose, strutting
their scandalous prongs, the next rolling up
in impenetrable balls not unlike our own reaction
to fire and smoke, momentum meltdown, to pumice
and mud letting loose, slides engulfing entire towns,
familiar battening down against Agnes, Irene, Ike.
In 1969, while digging in the yard, my father cracked open
a sandstone slab, revealed the ones preceding
our stately maples and oaks, our starlings and squirrels,
our 271 Grove. Had wanted to delve, was delving;
had wanted to be swept as they’d been swept,
from purchase crickets, pay Syd, water seedlings. They,
who had not seen it coming; I, at any moment,
caught in the same rush.
MARTHA SILANO’s fourth collection of poems is Reckless Lovely. Her work has appeared recently in Poetry, Sou’wester, Crab Orchard Review, North American Review, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere.