Destroyer of Worlds
Just like me to go searching
for something named Destroyer of Worlds.
Killer of coral, it rises
from the seafloor and writhes
with ravenous arms of toxic spines.
Just like me to sweettalk a star-
fish, a Crown of Thorns, to embrace
an envoy of brine and hunger.
And so much hunger—
a plague of need: enough to feast
on a reef, to be a terror of self-absorption.
Praise the rites of stars whose ardor
is plunder, whose desire is obscene
and god-sent, but could be my own
in a marginally darker universe.
Breakfast time, and the air is thick
with raptor cries. I try to hurry;
Lucy, a barn owl, unhinged by hunger,
lets fly her most sepulchral scream—
a music fit for ghosts. The noise never ceases
to shatter me, but it’s just her way,
and the frozen mice won’t thaw
fast enough to fill her.
She scrawls her signature in the air:
a mad rustle just above my ears
and just in time I lay out a tableau
of five dead mice, some still tinseled in loam
and woodchips. She slurps them up
one by one like a kid with a juice pack
until the last errant tail
dangles like an old shoe string from her beak.
This is her gift: making the macabre
comedy, even ordinary. I’ve seen the macabre.
It’s ordinary as the birds cramped in hampers
and boxes, their bodies blasted by cars,
their autopsies revealing pesticides
in the bloodstream. My species loves poisons.
And my cardinal virtue? A benefaction of rodents.
A breeze when I open the door to go.
more than the first ache.
Even in this alternate galaxy
where you are a jilted bride
of twilight, little peregrine,
with your tattered feathers
and your missing wing (a phantom wing?),
a torment of a twin, your loss is vast as sky.
Would you prefer the wind
or the mercy of green
when shadows loom?
What time is it, Mr. Wolf?
Time again for escape:
when I approach, looming,
the old instinct rises in you
like an overrun creek spilling
over a ledge. And each time
your fall shocks you; the wound
reopens, and the terror
of being grounded flickers
across your whole being.
Hunger: I feel it in your fretting,
your phantom wing forgetting its lack.
Hunger: more than the first ache,
a paradigm of violence.
Costly are your drives
that strongarm you back to earth,
and— costlier still— the elemental singing
(the counterforce of prison)
in your bones for sky.
And I’m too close for comfort.
Sarah Giragosian (PhD, UAlbany, 2014) is the author of the poetry collection Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and author of The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming). Her poems have recently appeared in such journals as Ecotone, The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, and Denver Quarterly, among others.