“North Country” by Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano


Tonight the moon smells like the forehead
of an idiot savant
they dragged from a car wreck last week
on the road to Monticello.

No wind. No flock.
But buck-blind slug-crack.

The house they’re leveling by the power plant:
a woman who starved herself

kept her father there
four winters, his trashed lung
filling her sleep with a blue whir.

Once, after his burial, I saw her in the yard
crouched over the frozen carcass of a groundhog

that had opened its gut
on the deer fence, stumbled a few yards,

and sprawled out, bewildered,
by the garbage lid.

I couldn’t hear what she was saying,
and still can’t,
but when she rose to turn back I watched her
bend down again

and crush her cigarette into the bushy scarab
of a face, slowly, twice in each eye.

It was February. Bucks
hung from an oak.

And because I think there’s no harm
in misunderstanding,
I think maybe that’s what poverty
meant to her:

the body’s going back. The scar
and the rush.

The going back so quietly the hour
will never know how innocent
you think you are.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009

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