The 2River View 16.3 (Spring 2012)

Victoria Anderson

Low Songs

In this old stone corridor with its narrowing plank of sunlight,
the throatiest coo in Mexico comes from the pigeon above. Just
death in another disguise. At the Mercado a cardboard child’s
toy is a funeral procession complete with a treadmill for moving
the mourners. The last turn of the crank provides the coffin.
Last night the flamenco singer’s voice registered as low as the
pigeon’s. No translation was necessary. Here no one is trying to
beat death. Elbow to elbow they walk toward it. I’m tired of
pumping myself full of remedies. Next month I will go to my
mother’s grave and spread a blanket of marigolds. At five we’ll
share a cocktail mixed strong. I’ll transport beauty and arrange
it just so. Then I’ll explain the dance, the thundering purple
shoes, the lift of the skirt, and the dancer’s hands working like
birds, furious with ecstasy and death.

Summer’s Noble Species

O the spotting and naming of summer’s notable species
the lesser   the common   the varied

but names cannot tame
the young male Ruby-throated hummingbird
who masquerades as female from spring to fall

or the smallest hummingbird
in the guise of a moth

or the largest moth   the Death’s Head Hawthorne
who carries a skull-shaped pattern on his back
and drops wing dust when flying towards light

and while a moth is never a butterfly
butterflies arose within moths and were beautiful
no clubbed antennae or brown wings
just slender smooth abdomens never gorged
on night blooming plants

no   gorging is for the moths and microbats
for the Greater Noctule bat believed
to catch and eat small birds in midair

much can be expected of those dark velvety
things whose forelimbs serve as wings

whose small teeth can bite a sleeping man
who might never feel the sting
who might wake convinced and chant

O false vampire   big-eyed   spear-nosed   sucker-footed
O funnel-eared   communal rooster
O large and naked   O sacred summer bat

Victoria Anderson directs the Writing Program at Loyola University in Chicago. Her poems have appeared in Agni, Cortland Review, Gulf Coast, and Mississippi Review. Vorticity, her second book of poems, is forthcoming from Mammoth Press. contact