The Muse, or Stars Out on Interstate 81 South

On the tip of a hill, the silhouette is of something not of this world,
the body silent in the birth of another shadow, swelling still

among stars & veins. The sun dropping below the mountains left
hardly any light, except what glimmers on the membrane & slips

into the high grass. Alone, I pulled over to the side
of 81 where semis’ blowing horns descend

beyond the sloped field. Pieces of barbed wire snapped from the line.
I stepped through the fence, its blood-colored rust rubbed into my hands.

For a moment, it is something that stays with me, like a memory
that does not give up easily. I try wiping my hands onto my jeans, but nothing.

It is anything it wants to be—calf, half-life, angel—its fur a glaze
of cricket sounds & cool air, a thing of stars burnt into hooves, a haze,

& I stood there, not knowing whether it would be right to touch the one
not breathing, its nose drying in the grass next to my hands, grit

in the creases & burning now with the dust of splinters. Like flies,
my fingers hover over the dead face.

Jon Pineda, "The Muse, or Stars Out on Interstate 81 South" from Birthmark. Copyright © 2004 by Jon Pineda.  Reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press.
Source: Birthmark (Southern Illinois University Press, 2004)
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