Gay, Ross

United States, (b. 1974)

Song of the Pig Who Gave the Poet, Age 3, Worms

  1. You didn’t know what the hands
  2. that held your hands would do
  3. to me, my mother, and siblings. You couldn’t
  4. imagine it. And so,
  5. instead of escaping your clutch
  6. and snuggle, I waited, threw my tiny
  7. hooves in the air, gave you my belly.
  8. The other hogs watched.
  9. Although I dreamt of opening your throat
  10. with the same blade stained
  11. with the blood of my kin, your touch
  12. felt good, honest, kissing my snout and eyes,
  13. my pig’s mouth. And when you left
  14. (walking backward, weren’t you?), I knew
  15. I had marked you, your little mouth, mouth
  16. that kissed me, whispered in my ears,
  17. that spoke to no one about the mud
  18. and shit caked in my hooves, that loved the taste
  19. of bacon and ham, and pork chops
  20. most of all–for the lies and smiles,
  21. and for your dull memory (do you
  22. recall the color of my eyes,
  23. the speckles of pink crawling across my snout, the smell
  24. of my spine’s smooth ridge?), for this especially,
  25. I tried to mark you with the pain of worms, which,
  26. like everything else, failed: hands, snout,
  27. windblown sand of our bones.

© Ross Gay. American Poetry Review  Jan/Feb 2005, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p.33.

About the Poet:

Ross Gay (b. 1974) is a U.S. poet. He attended Lafayette College with a double major in English and Art, then went on to Sarah Lawrence College for a Master of Arts in Poetry and he recently completed his Ph.D. at Temple University.

Currently, Gay is currently an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Creative Writing at Indiana University Bloomington. When he is not teaching, he works as a demolition man, coaches basketball, writes poetry, and paints.

Gay is the author of two collections of poetry, Against Which (2006) and Bringing the Shovel Down (2011). His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Columbia, Margie and Atlanta Review as well as in anthologies including From the Fishouse (2009). [DES-07/12]

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