Biologists

by Sam Collier

Sam Collier is a poet and playwright. Her poems have appeared in Liminal StoriesPrompt PressGuernica, and Pure Francis. Her play Daisy Violet the Bitch Beast King was a finalist for the 2017 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. She lives in Chicago.

We only want to measure her, to mark her tail and touch
the fur between her night black eyes, and still

we know that when we hold the deer mouse she will twist
against the air in anguish, longing for the shadows

of the field, pressing with her feet her brush of whiskers,
never guessing we will let her go. But when we peer inside the trap

she’s not alone, and the small round bodies of her young
glow pink as secrets, their tiny eyelids still translucent

with dreams from the just-crossed world. They curl and breathe,
an hour old, their heartbeats hurrying them forward

into time. We set them in the green shade of the soybeans
for her to hide. In the nest, she will feed them from her body,

and even though she’s lost more pups than she can count
to hawks and snakes and hunger, she’ll sing to them of hope,

the sweetness of summer seeds. The afternoon’s another country
here, hot spice of prairie, sharp fist of sun. Every insect is singing

about the end of the world. We slide canoes through glassy channels,
swim in the clear-cold lake. Peer at turtle faces, swallows,

yellow perch. Yesterday a boy brushed parsnip in a field;
his arm is spangled with its burning kiss. At dawn today,

while the sky lit its edges, a doe and I spent several breaths
studying each other’s eyes. I drifted in my kayak. On the bank

she licked her nose. It shone. We listened as the highway whispered
its insistent distance. Then she turned and left me with the noise.

 


Sam Collier is a poet and playwright. Her poems have appeared in Liminal StoriesPrompt PressGuernica, and Pure Francis. Her play Daisy Violet the Bitch Beast King was a finalist for the 2017 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. She lives in Chicago.

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