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May 17, 2019 Poetry

Anyway, that was the saddest part

Sarah Bates

Anyway, that was the saddest part photo

I often confuse the dead horses
for trees. I say things like termites

care about the weather, or dark stars
will always find their way to empty

rooms. Anyway, the dead horses are real,             
and the trees are real. Tonight a herd

of cattle is headed back toward the town
and now the river is real. The Mesopotamia

is real and the people in the town are real.
And when I saw pictures of the bighorn

sheep, I wanted them to be real so I searched
for the hands that drew them. And anyway,

the narwhal fighting off another narwhal
in order to catch its own breath is real,

and sometimes when I am in Vermont,
I go into the woods to hide from the holiness

of conclusion, and sometimes it is so real
I don’t want to come out. Anyway, listen to me

nature is real. And when seal pups kiss, it is real
just like the time we got a hotel room halfway

in between where you sleep and where I sleep
just to kiss. That was real. And yes, I often confuse

kissing with love, but when we kissed, it was real,
the same way love when it is love is real. And

to describe the language of love is to describe
the language of bees and that is to be real

and to buy something in order to remember
the describing and the kissing and the bees

is to be real. And anyway, on my way home,
I paid seventeen dollars for a piece of petrified

wood somewhere in between the kissing
and the describing and Holbrook, Arizona

and it felt so real that I called my mom just to talk
about the levels of brightness when two fighting

narwhals kiss. And anyway, I, too, want to be real.
Like spring, like swamps and like seaweed, I want

to see a whale from a beach town in California
or Rhode Island and to know that it’s real.

Because when you touched me for the first time
I knew my body was real. The Mesopotamia

was there and the Tigris and the Euphrates
and for hours the bees crawled into the craters

of me as if my body had never been clawed into.
And because when I sent you the poem about

the dying whale, you wrote back, why couldn’t you
have the whale getting saved by a narwhal or something?

Anyway, that was the saddest part.

image: Laura Gill