Dominion Over the Larger Animal

By Sophie Cabot Black b. 1958
How many times I have provided
For your death; the apple turned one way
Then the other, an arrangement made,

The softer ground. To hold your head
As if this mattered, to say what I think
Essential into your ear,

To watch the eye look everywhere to find
What it does not know it looks for.
To fasten you down in the one place

Where no one can say anything more,
Being nothing else but breath leaving,
While the man with the needle stands by

Until the signal of how it is time. To believe
I know what will happen next; to leave the hill
As the body stiffens; to pass each blossom

Of blood in the snow as if I understood
All I was capable of.

Source: Poetry (May 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2011
 Sophie Cabot Black


Raised on a small New England farm, poet Sophie Cabot Black received a BA from Marlboro College and an MFA from Columbia University. Black’s collections of poetry include The Misunderstanding of Nature (1994), which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and The Descent (2004), which won the Connecticut Book Award. Black’s lyrical poems are both revelatory and elusive, exploring a landscape sharpened . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Life Choices, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Tercet

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