Poem: “Carajo”


The night you don’t come home,
the crows in our elm jilt

their brood. I hear their young
shriek until their tongues must be calloused.

I dream I climb the tree, rub my hands
raw, never reach their nest.

In the morning, they are quiet. I find a chick
crushed—an ashen heap, its mouth

a wound. The cat musses it, liking the way
its neck moves. I would need to see its entrails,

see the way its wings tried to lighten its body,
to understand your leaving. The omen is in its

sinking. Your sisters can point at the divine
pattern of freckles on my thigh,

the tattoo of your ship’s hull behind my ear.
They know I desire the edgeless

darkness, of being the one that leaps
to find the one that left.

-From Issue 78 of CutBank

10 thoughts on “Poem: “Carajo”

  1. This is a wonderful, wonderful poem. I love everything about it.

    Is there any reason you chose elm here?

    I have a sweet young elm tree that planted itself too close to my wooden fence, right on the property line. It’s probably about 10 years old, and I guess it had a growth spurt this spring and knocked part of my fence over. It’s not a good thing when you have a dog, but keeping my fingers crossed I can save the elm.

    1. Thank you! This poem is the second to last poem in my manuscript (Swallow Tongue), so I was looking all of the poems together and making sure I wasn’t repeating too many things. I had originally had it as an ash tree, but I used ash trees or the word “ash” in several other poems, so I chose elm instead to make it a little different. I also really like using trees and plant life indigenous to the this area.

      Good luck with the elm! The previous home owners actually cut a hole in their face to be around a tree right on the property line. The fence is snug against the tree, so there’s no gaps. Maybe an idea for you guys?

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