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Author: Cathy Song
Date: June 1999
From: Shenandoah(Vol. 49, Issue 2)
Publisher: Shenandoah
Document Type: Poem
Length: 360 words

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About this Work
Title: Fur (Song, Cathy) (Poem)
Published: January 01, 1999
Genre: Poem
Author: Song, Cathy
Occupation: American writer
Other Names Used: Song, Cathy-Lynn;
By the shade of fur on his arms
she could tell he had traveled a great distance.
She could tell by the profusion of fur
he was not from around here.
He did not carry the long pole of her brothers
stripped clean of bark.
He did not carry the rust-stained markings on his back.
He carried his odor trapped in his fur,
the scent of the hunted not wet with fear
but vast and wounded
like a gathering of years upon the sea.
And although the flowers hastily plucked from the side
 of the road
were ordinary, the explosion of petals
releasing pollen, obscuring the road,
was clearly meant for her.
Somewhere a leaf punctured the air, like the bone
of a small animal tearing itself free.
By dawn her brothers would decipher the dirt,
a jagged scrawl limping out of  the bushes.
With ash-coated tongues they would lick
the spot where she lifted her face as if to rain.
Her brothers would not think to look for
what they did not expect.
They would not lose the scent
of an odor they never had.
They would not imagine the dust
of flowers feathering her mouth,
only the tongues they owned,
thick pelts gnashing against teeth.
Out of his pouch tumbled a heap of black stones.
The stones glowed cold, the moss
of an echo buried in the tooth of a cave.
The coldness swallowed her.
She could smell the places where he slept,
places where he kept his fur warm.
When he began to pour his breath into his hands,
the stones lit from within
ruby-flamed, the heat of persimmon.
Good sense told her to run but she stepped
deeper to breathe the smoke of his breath
like a spice
unnaming the space between them.
It happened when light fled the forest,
when her brothers stretched string beds between trees
like nets to catch sleep.
It happened on her way home,
all those days of walking
had with each step brought her home
toward the horizon stretched across a skin of memory.
The sketch of a ship, a shadow really, lifting through:
fur and desire perceived with equanimity.
Full Text:

Copyright © Cathy Song.
First appeared in Shenandoah, Volume 49, Number 2 (Summer 1999).


Source Citation

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Gale Document Number: GALE|LTF0000646647WK