Oration: Half-Moon in Vermont

A horse is shivering flies off its ribs, grazing
Through the stench of a sodden leachfield.

On the broken stairs of a trailer
A laughing fat girl in a T-shirt is pumping
Milk from her swollen breasts, cats
Lapping at the trails. There's a sheen of rhubarb
On her dead fingernail. It's a humid morning.

Tonight, with the moon washing some stars away,
She'll go searching for an old bicycle in the shed;
She'll find his father's treasures:
Jars full of bent nails, a lacquered bass,
And the scythe with spiders
Nesting in the emptiness of the blade
And in the bow of its pine shaft.
Milling junk in the dark,

She'll forget the bicycle, her getaway,
And rescue
A color photograph of an old matinee idol.
Leaving the shed, she'll startle

An owl out on the marsh. By November
It will be nailed through the breast to the barn.

In a year the owl will go on a shelf in the shed
Where in thirty years there will be a music box
Containing a lock of hair, her rosaries,
Her birth certificate,

And an impossibly sheer, salmon-pink scarf. What
I want to know of my government is

Doesn't poverty just fucking break your heart?

Norman Dubie, "Oration: Half-Moon in Vermont" from The Mercy Seat: Collected & New Poems 1967-2001. Copyright © 2001 by Norman Dubie.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: The Mercy Seat: Collected & New Poems 1967-2001 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)