a man…died

Unnoticed in the bushes off the 101 Freeway.

By the time he was found,

a wood rat had dragged his skull

some thirty feet off

to use as a nest.  – Dorothy Baressi, from “The Garbage Keepers”


I love this idea.

The mice’s fur, dry as straw,

bellies pink with milk. Their claws, curled

thin as the roots of an orchid, inside.

Think of it, your skull,

this thing you have carried from room to room,

library that housed all your angry love letters,

recipes for limeade, lists for what needed

to be done on the house. Now empty

as a temple made to honor a lunar eclipse.

The sockets of my eyes say nothing.-

still their gaze against the cold,

making their hollow, a window into trees.

O lordess of silence. I think of songs

whispered in branches. Sweetness in the leaves,

rustled by the feet of doves.

The long knives of green, coming through the earth.

The way they seem to be made of light.

The owl in his palace of feathers.

Eyes yellow as sonnets.

But why focus on the owl, or grass, or trees?

Look at the forest and the broken spines of leaves,

the roots lifting from the ground

and the city beyond. All your life

you’ve been trying to find

something to land on. Let us return

to the skull, which has carried so much

of its own shadow, now lying in the forest,

the mice, nestled skin to skin, filling

your bones with their contentment.

Like earth’s final apology,

and her prayer.


Tresha Faye Haefner

Tresha Faye Haefner’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in several journals and magazines, most notably Blood Lotus, The Cincinnati Review, Hunger Mountain, Pirene’s Fountain, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Radar, Rattle and TinderBox. Her work has garnered several accolades, including the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize, and a 2012 nomination for a Pushcart.

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