Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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Handpick the Lame Horses from the Able-Bodied

You were gone and from your mouth
I could wrestle nothing but your limp tongue
and a few titanium teeth. I went in search of answers.

In India I discovered important pieces of evidence:
the aquifers there multiply every day. They deepen. The population
rises in shovelsful of thirst, brown water.

I did not know what to make of this.
Then I fell in love
with a physicist in Cambridge. It was the black hole
that broke us up, my constant questioning. If you were crushed
in a black hole, would the light of your radiation
hover on the horizon forever? Another:
All those aquifers hollowing out the ground—won’t India
one day collapse upon itself? One question

leads logically to another: Those teeth in your head
might have better served in some other capacity,
affixed to a queen’s headdress in Africa, or strung up
in a Venetian bell jar to ring the help for tea. In another life,
as someone’s fingernails, or the unidentifiable matter on Mars.

Let me just say: the deaths of billions of insects each day
is beyond my comprehension.
Another important consideration
is what to do with old checkbooks, locks of hair left in envelopes
smelling up the hope chest, unwelcomed
knocks on the door, with gum shoe, bird shit,
untimely death. To think,
it was the Kashmiri apple alone
which kept the trade routes between India and Pakistan alive.
Something had to give.

All this finally led me to a ranch in Reno
where now I handpick the lame horses from the able-bodied.
I have a very fair eye. From their dirty teeth and hooves,
a white glue is made and tested in factories using
the Wedge test, the Peel test,
the Double Cantilever Beam test. Only the strongest
are bottled. They are sent off in crates
to preschools, craft stores, Girl Scout troop headquarters.
No one asks questions and no one looks at the ingredients.
In Nepal, some of the happiest people, apparently,
cannot read. Words for them

are black as the blotch on the MRI screen where the doctors pointed out
your utter lack of brain activity.  

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