On the savannah, not Rilke’s unicorn or Jarrell’s
eland, but you, Oryx. In the fringed grass of

the little rains, you stalk with sheen and grace.
When you bend low to browse, I mount, ride

bareback, clutching the twisted spires of your horns
as you bolt away. But you must never climb

the stairs to my house. Never expect a place
laid out at our table. Nor should you

appear one-horned to breech the gate of
my hermit’s retreat. Instead, as I grip your

smoky flanks with my legs, lead me deep, then deeper into the wet, wild caldera of time.


Familiar Tense (Marsh Hawk Press) 2019.
Also special thanks to Arts & Letters where this first appeared.