“At the Edge of the Hennessey Farm” by Liz N. Clift

Liz N. Clift


The Paint nickered, trotted toward us, lowered
its broad soft nose to our dog, and I wondered
why dogs and horses, even parakeets, touch noses,
how we might better love the world and trust
each other if we too touched noses as matter of
exploration, bumped shoulders, allowed
ourselves to hug more, think less.
I thought of the mahout I saw
in a photograph, his elephant exploring his face
with its trunk, and the way dolphins came to explore
my kayak in the Pacific, the way they brushed
alongside, stuck noses in the air to tap
my outstretched palm.
We stood there and after a long moment,
the horse raised its nose to me, extended quivering lips
to the jacket pocket where I stored dog treats. I placed
my palm first on its nose and then rubbed the plane
between its eyes, tried to understand why
we deny each other the culture
of touch, which isn’t about us, but about
being animal, about being a part of this world
instead of apart from this world, why when sirens
ring in the background, I have trouble imagining
a person. I think about how, when you place your hands
on my shoulders, just briefly, I feel whole.

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
Tribute to Southern Poets


Liz N. Clift (North Carolina): “I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where words were music. But, like many Americans, I grew up believing I hated poetry—that it wasn’t something that I understood, or wanted to understand. It took a friend who loves poetry to teach me how to love it also. I write poems because poetry allows us to make connections that won’t work in any other medium. I want to capture the moments and could-have-been moments that create the stories we tell ourselves.” (web)

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