Poetry

From Issue II (2017)   

 
Cobra Skull | ALYSSA IRIZARRY  Pen on paper, 6 x 6 in., 2017

Cobra Skull | ALYSSA IRIZARRY
Pen on paper, 6 x 6 in., 2017

 

Upon Finding a Skull

by TODD DAVIS

A jawbone bleached by winter fails to say what its owner thought as death crowded
the space behind the ear. Instinct’s benevolence continues to bless: blood flows
south, then north. Hunger leads to desire. For a moment we are both inside and
outside of the body. We struggle to comprehend the contracting population of
golden-winged warblers, but understand the moist exhalation of an opened
mouth, teeth formed perfectly to rend scalp from bone. How can we judge the
animal who takes pleasure in the sumptuous licking of flesh, even the eyeholes
cleaned of their meat. The new mantra of sustainability sounds like flies buzzing
on the lips of bureaucrats who forget death consumes everything. Loss of habitat
is mostly to blame, but hybridization with blue-winged warblers accounts for
some of our grief. Imagine how the body opened under the nail’s razor claw, the
way it scalpeled the membrane, heart unruly and hemorrhaging. Without leaves,
this early sun blanches skin, makes evident the scar on your cheek, the clearcut on
the ridge. By April the opossum’s pouch squirms with sleepy pups, and in June
we’ll count warbler calls and blush if we spot the bird, plumage reminding us of
our own nakedness.

 
Hummingbird Skull | ALYSSA IRIZARRY  Pen on paper, 6 x 6 in., 2016

Hummingbird Skull | ALYSSA IRIZARRY
Pen on paper, 6 x 6 in., 2016

 

Todd Davis

Todd Davis is the author of five full-length collections of poetry—most recently Winterkill and In the Kingdom of the Ditch, both published by Michigan State University Press. His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Bronze Award. His work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Gettysburg Review, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, and Sycamore Review. He was a fellow in the Black Earth Institute and teaches environmental studies, creative writing, and American literature at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.