I curtsy to the prairie turtle, running with all its might
to catch the paint line of a country road.
I pity the lone ostrich at the Wichita petting zoo,
who plucks out her own feathers because they sold
her mate to a place in Toledo. I cheer the prairie dog, who
keeps watch on the outskirts of his town, knows exactly
where to find a crunchy spider for dessert. Most of all,
I sing for the two-headed calf who managed to live
three whole days before it knelt beside its mama
and sank into the mud. Praise the mud and its confusion
with each quick slip of hoof. Praise the double song
of sadness from the sleep-sloppy mouths. Praise the farmer
who finally sussed it from the sludge and onto his back
while the mama kicked the farmer until he split open.
Praise his daughter who spied it all from her window.
Years later, she’ll still have nightmares about that day.
The smell of linen and butter always bring her back.
Praise each groan and sigh from her fretful sleep.
–Lucky Fish (2011)
Photo By: Chris Branch