Dear Reader

The mink shouldered out of its cage,
paced four meters square.
I admired the indexed spine. The guard hairs
slick. The mouth

The black eye trained against the water pump, the white magnolia—
what could I bring to the dooryard?
He wanted nothing of torn bread.
Nothing to drink.

One night the mink climbed my throat
and out of bone and grasping
a demon was born
to haunt the city of steeples.

It blessed the pedestals worn
by thumbprints. Leather Bibles. Rivers bruising
in their beds. Its jaw hung like a petal
darkening by the hour.

Dear reader. What I started to tell you
had something to do with hunger
but the mink was demon
turned bodiless terror.

It lead me closer to the firs
where the dead wait for an answer.
All night the mink appeared
and disappeared.
The demon wept.

Bodies lined up like blonde guitars
without their necks. Faces I loved thorned
in the trees. A tanager shone
like a pitcher of blood.

Karen Rigby has poems forthcoming in Meridian and Quarterly West. Her most recent chapbook is Savage Machinery (Finishing Line Press, 2008).