Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Day 241

the animals

the animals smell it,
scent it, and it makes them
contradictory, running away one
moment and coming close the next,
lying by the olding man, so
close they cramp his movements,
share warmth into his cold skin,
and breathe new life into his
fragmented gasps.

when he stumbles from house to
fields, they shy away, chase their
own shadows into hiding places
only they know, resurface when
his rattling falters and grows
silent, when he stops moving, when
tiredness becomes too much to fight.
they watch him and understand,
but struggle with compassion and
fear, sometimes growling into hate.

around the time of calm, moments
his fears abandon him for music
or imagination, and he is motionless
on the chair, they creep up to him to
lay their heads on his weary hands
to squeeze themselves flat against
his wasting thighs while his eyes,
bright in the dark, expect recovery
around the corner, health and youth
the next second. it doesn’t come.

the animals know, when they are lucid
and not bound by instinct.
they have carried their own death
around with them since they walked
the week after they were born.

This came to me in the early hours, and feels like it will be the first in a sequence of at least four poems.




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