INITIATION
Paula Bohince


In the forest’s clearing, wilderness
resurrects, winter life resembling
a desert life: wind of alabaster and gypsum,
plasterlike dust clinging to
frescoed colors—the queer bluish blood
of veins beneath pale flesh
that is sky, pines in their sequences
of milquetoast greens.
Snow spins its needles, abrading
its own epidermis with a grain like sea salt,
burning our make-believe frontier faces,
purpled and tough from an hour’s starvation.
See the girl gang of deer just ahead?
Sextet triangled on the hilltop, posturing
for us, snorting and pawing,
flexing thigh muscles, showing off
white bruises, beige tattoos?
They could jump us, and we, knee-deep
in vellum, could do nothing.
Quick, assume the weakling pose we learned
in high school, try not to move
or they’ll catch hints of our Downy
and Vidal Sassoon, those scents that shame
us, that reek of the world.

 

Paula Bohince’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Agni, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, Field, Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review and Best New Poets 2005. She has won the 2005 Grolier Poetry Prize, received residencies from the MacDowell Colony, and was awarded an artist’s grant from the Puffin Foundation. She lives in New York City.

 

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