Skip to content

Author: dhenning

Animal Mission

Animal Mission

In the beginning there was promise.
We lived together in harmony,

took only what was needed and that was sufficient.
The Shepherd walked with his sheep,

animal spirit commingling with human spirit,
breath of the sacred between them.

We suffered when we stopped seeing
everything as part of us,

when we thought human greater,
therefore, separate and superior.

The Shepherd set down his water horn,
gave up daily treks over green hills.

He forgot his thirst for clear streams.
Forgot what the earth told his feet.

This division split our spirits,
and the animals cried for their people.

A fracture grew between nations.
At night the animals pined for us to enter their lives,

but we’d forgotten the wholeness of the world,
and for this the animals continue to weep.

Poetry Pacific 2020

From the Northeast Kingdom

From the Northeast Kingdom

When the black bearskin hung from the tree
like a rug drying on the clothesline,

the hunter recounted how he started an incision,
cut upward to the head,

stopped at the mouth’s corners. From the rear paws
I cut to the elbow, crossed to the chest incision,

his voice razzed the youngster who watched,
Are you sickward, Child? It wasn’t until he

got to the head that fuzziness rocked her.
Between kerosene kerplunking into the cook-

stove, and her Grandfather’s graveled voice,
she silently wept for the ears turned

inside out, pressed back. The bear’s

2

life spoke to her of fresh droplets
coating his fur tips, and the scent of blackberries rose.
Inside the bear’s choice thicket, paws reach for vines,
and he pulls leaves, thorns, berries towards him,

meshing them into his mouth—such sweetness.
Only when he satiates himself,

turning in his dark poetic cape does the hunter
bring him down—a moment of beauty and satisfaction

supremely merged, and he falls,
as only a black bear falls, king

of his forest, crowned by the rainfall.

Nagatuket River Review

Because He Cannot Be Human, and She Cannot Be Donkey.

His name is Jacob, his fur an unruly thatch.
My sister is in love with him, brings him carrots,
apples and such. He lives in a field down the road
from her in Starksboro, Vermont. They are neighbors.

I wonder if he dreams about her at night,
if he’d like to snuggle with her at the old Mill House
on cold evenings. He reaches so far into his barreled chest
for a voice to greet her that it must take years

for such braying as his, a voice filled with such sadness
that only momentarily they will meet like this; two
reaching across the fence to hold, to stay held, to be
steadied by what fierce yearning as brings opposites together.

                                Poetry Pacific #37

Rhubarb Season

Rhubarb Season

A rooster crowed at the first
strike of light, awaking the stone
child who held her own

child, and was herself
a child. In England, the first
rhubarb of the year is harvested
by candlelight to enhance a more
tender, sweeter stalk. There’s even

a Rhubarb Triangle, where growing sheds
dot the land. This resembles wonder. Salt
on rhubarb is what you remember. You
offer a bite to the stone child. She
wrinkles her face into a smile. You’ll never

get used to the way memory
makes you live many lives. In a single season
of rhubarb, countless

stone children are unearthed.

                                New American Writing 37