The Bone-man lives in a stucco
house. He ticks his heels

on the cold terrazzo floor.
He parks his ragtruck

in the yard, instructs his crew
on the white telephone.

I am training my dog
to attack the red-capped hunter

bearing his long package.
I am training the tethered jay

to cry out against
the killer who cracks the latch.

On the open map, the road
to my house bulges like a vein.

He takes a train, he rents
a car, he lurches in

with an open fly. Sweet Eve
was just the Farmer’s Daughter,

he wooed her with a wormy apple.
He’s a dirty joke, he’s

always everybody’s last
lover, he’s a regular

can of worms—you wry Medusa,
I am a mongoose staring you down.

Ellen Bryant Voigt, “Preparation” from Claiming Kin. Copyright © 1976 by Ellen Bryant Voigt. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press,
Source: Claiming Kin (1976)
More Poems by Ellen Bryant Voigt