Use Caution when Taking the Bull by the Horns
Wear leather gloves, thick skin, a scrim of gorgeous
Call for the bandilleros and the picadors.
Call for the doctor, call for the nurse,
call for the lady with the alligator purse.
You know, I knew that lady. She used to visit my mother.
The furs at her neck bit each other’s tails.
It was dangerous back in 1949:
the Italians were still starving and warehouses by the Thames
were soot black. My little sister almost died
because her throat was too small.
All my life I have listened for breathing.
When I am lucky, I can feel the earth inhale,
grasses rising like the messy coat
of a very old dog.
Who will listen for breaths when I am gone?
Who listened before I was born?
I must take the bull by the horns and leap onto
his humped back. We will chase that cow
over fresh moons.
Mother, I am hiding under the washtub.
Daddy, I am hiding under the lilacs.
I am holding my breath. Anyone here,
come find me.
I have been hiding for fifty years.
--Penelope Scambly Schott
This is what my new year is saying to me: chase a cow over fresh moons, listen for breathing.
I'm indebted to the amazing poet Penelope Scambly Schott for permission to use this poem. Here's a recent profile of Penelope in Combustus.
|Penelope Scambly Schott, featured poet at a Voicecatcher event.|
Christi catching Penelope's glow.
Photo by Laura Stanfill.