The Horse Leech’s Daughter, by Joshua Bell
The Horse Leech’s Daughter is a closed system. Samuel Beckett
From a coffin hinge you’ve made yourself
a wedding ring, and I hear you can’t get to sleep these days
without perfuming your bathroom mirror
on the spot where the reflection of your white neck
rises each morning, like an intestine,
as if even your glassed-up jugular could pump
the required lavender heat to send the stable hands
running to you with your daddy’s leather
satchel, packed with the good daughter’s cure.
Don’t you think I saw the pair of coveralls
in your closet, above the fingerprint kit,
below the formaldehyde jar, beside your ether-
soaked rags, the day I left? And here, I am king
of all I survey-a teapot, the ocean down the street,
and one hundred oblong egg-casings spacing
the beach: the water’s insectile come-ons, bereft of hope and slime.
This is my first chapter on home forensics,
and this is my new girlfriend, Sea-Bass.
Look at her dress, so rough and slippery.
And look, my time has come, my name on the next superfetatory convulsion
of the earth, on into a fresh, libertine nexus,
a crease in one of god’s little footprints,
but there are so many names mouldering
in the bone-yard, without bodies to inhabit.
Like the peg-legged dog of an old crypt-raider
I will fetch you a new name like a bone
from the dirt, when your time comes,
and I will fetch you your slippers and your pipe, when the time comes.
Some days I watch the ocean down the street,
and it’s like with a tongue that the water cuts
the sand into ribbed shelves, and it’s like with love
that the tongue drools on the taut, brown stomach
of the beach, and it’s like the tide that I invent
a thing to love, then cover it with water.
I hope we have reached a point in our relationship where a poem like this won’t frighten you, but give you momentary peace.
Josh Bell’s book of poetry is called No Planets Strike. I hope you get to read it one day.