Jul 5, 2013

Field of Skulls by Mary Karr


Field of Skulls

BY MARY KARR
Stare hard enough at the fabric of night,   
and if you're predisposed to dark—let’s say   
the window you’ve picked is a black
postage stamp you spend hours at,
sleepless, drinking gin after the I Love   

Lucy reruns have gone off—stare


like your eyes have force, and behind
any night’s taut scrim will come the forms   
you expect pressing from the other side.   
For you: a field of skulls, angled jaws
and eye-sockets, a zillion scooped-out crania.   
They’re plain once you think to look.


You know such fields exist, for criminals
roam your very block, and even history lists   
monsters like Adolf and Uncle Joe
who stalk the earth’s orb, plus minor baby-eaters   
unidentified, probably in your very midst. Perhaps   
that disgruntled mail clerk from your job


has already scratched your name on a bullet—that’s him   
rustling in the azaleas. You caress the thought,
for it proves there’s no better spot for you
than here, your square-yard of chintz sofa, hearing   
the bad news piped steady from your head. The night   
is black. You stare and furious stare,


confident there are no gods out there. In this way,   
you’re blind to your own eye’s intricate machine   
and to the light it sees by, to the luck of birth and all   
your remembered loves. If the skulls are there—
let’s say they do press toward you
against night’s scrim—could they not stare
with slack jawed envy at the fine flesh
that covers your scalp, the numbered hairs,   
at the force your hands hold

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