Julia Wagner

Two Goats

 

In Madison, Wisconsin, two goats are kissing.

Bright white goats standing tall as gods. 

One goat’s teeth, large block teeth

chiseled from white stone

attack the other’s teeth. 

My father, next to me,

recoils from the goats’

stone penises,

erect, human, 

stretched toward each other.

The goats’ front legs 

wrap around each other,

not in the way a dancer

might wrap around her partner

but harsher, basic and rough,

their hooves lamenting the lack of fingers

with which to grasp each other’s hair.

My father says such a thing 

should not exist, says I should look away,

but the way these goats hold each other

is the way I have always needed

to be held, 

not by my father’s gentle arms

that hold me like a glass doll

while I hold my breath.

 

Space Gang

A homophonic adaptation of Rilke’s “Spaziergang”   

 

Shown, it’s mean black and huge,

it be stone, it wedge,

then itch come, big and foreign.

 

So fast run us. We were night,

fast and content, followed our sky like vermin.

And wandered us, arched toward the night.

War is ahead, karma is ahead, sin. 

 

Our psyche wet, and withered, unsure,

we were amber spurned then given wind.


 

After Hunting

 

My mother returns with a bird

after hours of hunting, during which

I sat alone, played with a ball, heard

rain hit the roof. I would switch

 

places with her if my fingers knew 

how to hold a knife, or if my ball

could kill a bird. She cradles the bird, her two

hands stroking the bright feathers, she calls

 

the bird a pheasant, says it flew straight

into her knife, she simply gripped the blade,

held it up and bore its weight. 

I ask why did it do that? She plucks each feather, prays

 

over each one. We gut. She answers, nods

to herself. I think it knew me. I think it thought I was God. 

Julia Wagner is a poet and teacher from Minnesota. Her writing is influenced by her family and by growing up queer in the Catholic Church, as well as other experiences.

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