Places Called Bogs

With all the naming taking up the space
on local maps (the Gaps and the Passes,
the Swells and Paths) you’d think that we’d have named
the bogs as well—that someone would have staked a claim in honor of a family head
or kook. But I suppose a bog’s no knoll
or hollow—no terra firma into
which a stake will stick—nor is it truly water, which seems to sing its name aloud.
There’s something furtive in a bog,
some sense we sense we shouldn’t name
or call attention to. And so we call each bog the bog, and let that stand. The mist
was rising off the bog, we say. The bog
is where they found that man; or If you find
you’ve reached the bog, you’ve gone too far. Turn back.




A kumari is a prepubescent girl believed by certain Hindus and Buddhists to be the incarnation of the goddess Durga. She is removed from her family and worshipped until she menstruates, at which point she is no longer considered divine.

I was perfect when they came, all twenty
of my teeth aligned like stars within me.
They held a conch beside my ear to see
how I was made. They handled me gently.

Where I found composure not to cower
or cry out, only the goddess can say.
I am the goddess at least one more day.
You may question me, but I won’t answer.

If it’s an answer you need—or wisdom
ask it of men. I am daunted by these
human things. Serenity. Balance. Peace.
They are words (worse, terms) for what seems wordless.

But press your head to my sole. I’ll let you
feel the swell I’ve heard my body conveys,
as cool and hairless as a holy clay.
The goddess gives you power to be soothed.

Do it soon, though, while it’s still mine to give:
For many years now I have been a girl.
One day, like a whip, the goddess will uncurl.
Then blood will run from me, and I will live.



More Imagined Fragments by Beatrix Potter

Mrs. Hortense Honeybee was beside herself.
She could not budge
no matter how she tried.

She would fall behind
with the pollen, she just knew it!
The entire village would be buzzing
about having to settle for jelly
instead of honey.

Why had she ever agreed
to let in Cousin Imperia?
Wasps were always such unpleasant guests.
But Hortense could never say no
to family; it would be her undoing!
Already Imperia had offended
the neighbors with her droning.
And now she had paralyzed Hortense
and injected larvae into her abdomen!


Gallus Cockadoodle stood before the mirror
in the trailer in a corset stuffed with duck feathers.
He had forgotten the trauma of his abduction;
indeed, the ache in his ribs was almost pleasurable.

He knew he should be planning his escape
but instead could only think of how pleased
his captors would be with his outfit;

the garters made even his paltry legs enticing,
and the pasties on his wattle and comb danced
in the lamplight like stoked embers when he shook.


Whatever could have managed such a mess
or made such a stench!
Mister Pishy-Poshy couldn’t imagine!
Nor could he have conceived of such decadence—
the wadding and smearing, unspeakable
applications of gardening implements.
No English creature could
possibly be responsible.
It must have been a Scot
or someone from the Continent!—
or more likely, the colonies—
an Australian or an American.



The Cadmean Vixen

After she’s certain the gods are dead
(or in whatever deadened state is dead

for gods) she breaks the stony pose
she’s held a thousand years or more,

twitching an ear and flickering her whiskers,
before trotting off in search of boys or chickens.