“Seeker” by Karla Huston

Karla Huston


First it’s the centipede I kill downstairs
and then it’s the one who runs of into the dark
while I decide a piece of toilet paper
isn’t big enough to crush him.
Next I notice my dog has
scratched cracks in the carpet looking for a
place to pee and those black smudges, mosquitoes
squashed on the wall and
then I smell them. Rotten potatoes.
I find them trapped in plastic, bleeding
white and acrid, sopping up the bag
that holds them, dripping on the floor.
As I carry the remains to the compost heap,
the contents seep onto my hands,
and I wonder what could stink worse
than rotting potatoes—maybe
paper mill sludge, hot manure, unbathed
old women, crematoriums smoldering
with bodies, the hopper of a garbage truck.
read a book once about a man who compacts
trash for a living, most of the life spent
in a bunker where rubbish rains all day,
where he compresses a tempest of waste
into tense bundles. One day he crushes a load
of meat wrappings—pink butcher’s paper
peppered with scraps and flies—their cobalt
bellies fidgeting in the waste and as the jaws
of the hydraulic press close, the flies hang on, stuck
dumb to the blood, smeared forever
in a bale of wreckage. A frenzy of flies
clings to the potatoes in my compost,
so alive now they quiver in the sun
embroider the scene with metallic singing
and those eyes watching me.

from Rattle #16, Winter 2001
Tribute to Boomer Girls


Karla Huston: “Reading poetry is like a walk in a prairie: Black-eyed Susans bobble in a sea of green, Queen Anne’s Lace doilies float above the leather tongues of burdock. There is a surprise in every turn of word, and in every phrase and line, something new grows.” (web)

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