Though fit for soup, the snapper-turtle

that gnaws your finger won’t let go.

And though a sunfish cuddles even to a hook

 

dropped bare in the lake, and is beautiful, it dries

on the hot dock where the boys leave it flopping.

If you believe in Somebody, then Somebody

 

made a rule: to choose between muck-dark

hunger and kindness, which glints in the light

while above, the redtails trace the shape

 

of longing and forever. —Check your watch:

someone in robes and bones right now

is trying the limits of never killing, a young monk

 

grows wiser by being beaten, and the dodoes

in their books have learned too late

but learned, at least, that love

 

is not the answer. I wanted to tell you,

today, we don’t know

which side of the quiet war will win—

We know.

 

 

 

Sean Bishop
is the author of The Night We’re Not Sleeping In (Sarabande, 2014), selected by Susan Mitchell as winner of the 2013 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly ReviewBest New PoetsBoston ReviewjubilatPloughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he teaches creative writing and creative writing pedagogy, and coordinates the MFA and Fellowship programs at UW-Madison. He is the founding editor of Better (bettermagazine.org
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