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Pardon my asking, but do you think I could drink
this and be okay? I am still learning the scents
of poisons, can’t yet smell them in the wild. Sip it
and tell me if you die. I’ve heard
you can make tea from almost anything:
the mist on a cobweb, a tongue cut
from a corpse. We bodies carry so much
flavor inside ourselves—the unborn
gorge and pulse in their glee. Can I say I like
you best when you share yourself, when you
lend me a comb or toss me your jaw? I trust
you completely, with your bruised lungs
rattling like stones in a jug. Some birds
have feathers in their hearts, I’m not
making that up. When we met you were wearing
a purple cashmere mask studded with fake
diamonds. You said hold still, tyrant! and tackled
me to the ground. It was awful. Love,
don’t we seem yellower today? Don’t we seem
fungal and more complex? Every generation,
man’s eyes get smaller, less able to detect
danger in the periphery. It’s a handsome
predicament: we are born with the ways
we will die already built in. Don’t bother
with the copperhead in the garden
or the giant black eyeball rolling through
the tall grass. The only thing to do now is cheer
louder, fill our pockets with shells. You
were supposed to warn me before
you discovered the ark—it would have been nice
to dig up together. I have spent years
perfecting my helpless face, my every-beast-
of-the-earth face. I guess it’s just that lately
I have been feeling so poorly seen. I let
the sun set on my confusion and wake covered
in a film of feather grease. Tiny hunter,
little hole-in-a-leaf, you have always been
doomed, the meat of my gaze. I am
a tractor trailer with the heart of a living
boy. I am doing all of this to myself.
Read other poems from What Nature here.
Kaveh Akbar’s poems appear recently in The New Yorker, Poetry, The
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