Explaining It

By William Johnson William Johnson
In the woods off Ivory, just out of car-shot
it’s not enough to say a mouse lies snug

in a crib of roots, its fur sleek as babyskin,
Lord the body warm. Too often a name

subverts the pang it answers for, inwit of   
heart-light, the epiphanic clutch. I mean

do you sense with more than a chill the tiny
homely lumpliness of it there in the dirt

as you orphan the dim of a cold October
sun, no wound I can find anywhere

on its, your, my small soft bodykins—yikes
its left ear (the inner skin pink

delicate svelte) twitches a little
and I have this before thought tricks it

whimsically lovely wink of the soul as
mouse-force taking wing until the O-no

letdown when a yellow jacket backs out,
O sweetmeat funk and dandle of the brain

asputter as it launches over frost-curled leaves
and dollarweed seed strewn on the path

like medallions glimpsed the second we—
I mean all of us cold in the twilight—fly.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2008
 William  Johnson


William Johnson teaches at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. His collection of poems,Out of the Ruins (Confluence Press, 1999), was named Idaho book of the year, and he was awarded an NEA Fellowship in poetry for 2007.

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Poems by William Johnson

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SUBJECT Nature, The Body

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