All knobs and knuckles, hammer knees and elbows
they were a multitude of two, man and woman
dwelling as one tight flesh. In hallways,
on stairs vaguely lit by twilight, in their own
meager bed they would collide. . . veer off. . .
collide, like aging children aiming those
bumper cars, madly in Kansas Coney Islands.
Blue sparks jumped on their ceiling, lit her stockings
strangling his faucet, his fist plumbing
her shoulder's depth for blood. Until, as it is told,
they brought the cow into the house, straight from the barn,
oppressed for years with milk. They tied it,
lowing, to the icebox, pastured it
on rubber plants and dusty philodendrons.
They brought the horse in next, leaving the plow
like an abandoned aircraft, nose down
in rusting fields of corn. The pig, the donkey,
the rooster with its crowd of hens, they even
brought a neighbor's child complete with spelling words
and scales that wandered up and down the untuned
piano searching for roost as the chickens
searched and the cow, nuzzling the humming
frigidaire as if it were a calf.
So they survived with all that cuckoo's brood,
hearing the horse stamp through the floorboards,
the donkey chew the welcome mat, and all night long
through tumbling barricades of sleep the yeasty
rise and fall of breath. By blue television light
they milked and gathered, boiled the placid eggs
that turned up everywhere, laughed with the child,
fed the pig, and glimpsed each other's rounded limbs
reflected for a moment in the copper
washtub or around the feathers of a settling hen.
And winter passed; and spring; and summer,
The child left first, all braided, for the school bus.
The cow died of old griefs. The horse dreaming
of harness, the pig of swill, the donkey
of what magnitude of straw, broke out one night
and emptied the ark. Man and woman leaning
on brooms stood at the kitchen door and waved,
saw through a blaze of autumn the cock's comb
like one last, bright leaf flutter and disappear.
Then jostling a bit, for ceremony's sake,
they turned and lost themselves in so much space.