Husbandry by Amber Rambharose


 

i. of beasts
 
When a horse lies down
it lies down to die.
             It lies down for
salt
peter, for rifle, for a bolt
driven into its skull.
 
A horse doesn’t know
the word death, but a sow
knows
the word slaughter like a
lamb
 
understands shackles.
             Men scrape
dinner knives
over plates with the same
motion
they use to hone their
axes. Every animal knows
             the word blade
and men
lie down in fields to die
                      like
             horses.

ii. of soldiers
 
After Vietnam,
             my grandfather
bought a hundred pairs
of socks. After four
months of rain, he stole a
pumice
stone to scrape the
growth of fungus from
his heels. He lay down
             in a field to die
and should have.
He came home without
his M16 and drove a rig
             stocked with
swine and cattle to West
             Virginia
slaughterhouses.
He wept in his truck
             like he lay in the
fields. He knew the word
dying is synonymous with
hunger.
             Every animal
knows this;
             every soldier.

iii. of ghosts
 
My grandfather walked,
back
straight, to the war. His
eyes went
             wide at the ocean
and the killing fields
looked
             like the planting
fields
if he squinted his eyes
and believed it.
 
             An animal knows
death like a soldier
 
knows ghosts—without
             ceremony,
without casket. They
know carrion
             is twin to cairn.
 
They know
             the earth will
overtake their burial
mounds.
 
 
 
 

Amber Rambharose runs Forthcoming Poets and is an Assistant Editor at YesYes Books. Her fiction and poetry appear in Arcadia Magazine, PANK, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Whiskey Island, among others. She reads and writes in Philadelphia, PA.