Last November, edging down
an unintended path through
the bird sanctuary,

I found a jade merrywidow
hanging from an oak branch
by the snaps. To it clung

a moth's cocoon, grey like
twilight parking lots. Whoever
said cold consumes was wrong.

When the chill comes, the flies
don't die. They move inside
and buzz against fluorescent lights.

Once a bull moose swayed down
this street, and the paper came for
pictures. Said he must be starving or ill.

Boudin: cooked blood. One boy
says the new girl's speaking French,
but she is Cantonese, and calls us all

Mary. Mother of God, sixty churches
here, and I lost Him somewhere in
these narrow streets of paved cobbles.

Mother of mine, you say that there's
nothing here for me. There are birch
trees and squirrels on pine spills. Soaks in.

When I was a boy, the sugar maples
kept me looking along my avenue's curve.
Didn't believe people lived there on the river

until I saw their windows shine
whiskey, urine, and gold. I know
that I wasn't allowed, but I got my tongue

stuck to this city's cold and ruthless face.
Now it won't come off, unless I give it some
of my rough surface, the part that tastes.

My Memere lived here and died here.
At Saint Mary's she lay bedridden,
dentures on a tray. Her dinner brown

digestion pumped into a cylinder
bedside. Her final words
foreign to me.

Struck by this state of beauty, my
friend looked only at the edges, so contented,
the skin, but not the slippery, busy intersections

of sore and swollen organs working. The open
arms, but not the creaking and determined
bones bearing the illusion's weight.

Sometimes I pass the falls at night,
and I feel the unseen volumes.

  Joseph Marquis Boutin

MR. MARQUIS BOUTIN and his family live on the banks of Bog Brook in Mechanic Falls, Maine. In addition to writing, he studies dragonflies, kettle holes, and the secret lives of abandoned mills.