when I am wild with grief, the animal in me by Stacey R. Forbes

when I am wild with grief, the animal in me

when I am wild with grief, the animal in me

by Stacey R. Forbes

when I am wild with grief, the animal in me

is a ground squirrel, small and soft, whose
nature is to bite when handled

is a wild horse that love has filled to aching
with milk, gently nudging her stillborn foal

is a bighorn sheep who goes weeks without water, needing
only the rain inside her, leaping from ledge – to ledge

is a hummingbird plunging into every bud of sweetness
that opens in mourning, fighting to hold herself up

is a fawn on unsteady legs standing over his mother –
hunted out of season – waiting for her to wake

is a white-throated woodrat that builds her young the

heaviest house from scraps of sadness others have abandoned

is an owl that steals the head of a live chicken,

taking its memories back to her nest

is a centipede whose sorrow has one hundred legs,
sheltering for winter in the darkest corner of the room

is a long-nosed bat that feeds on the nectar of night blooming
things: like agave and dreams of those we have lost

is a Gila monster at a funeral in shining black beads

and long, sharp claws – ready to dig

is a desert tortoise holding her heart in a quiet shell,
knowing for certain her loneliness will outlive me


Stacey Forbes’ poem “Speaking of trees” won first place in the 2021 Plough Poetry Prize, and her autobiographical poem, “Polaroid of a girl from Pennsylvania,” was shortlisted for the 2021 Fish Poetry Prize. Inspired by the way the natural world illuminates humanity, she is published in Barren, Channel, and The Adirondack Review, with publications forthcoming in The Sunlight Press and Entropy. Born in the white birch woods of Pennsylvania, Stacey now lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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  1. Exquisite stained glass word painting for the deepest hues of sorrow to shine shadows through…….

  2. Poignant imagery of sadness and loss with the reminder to resume in spite of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that would leave some without the will to survive. Perhaps a reminder that suffering is often temporary, even if drawn out and so painful we can only get through day 10 seconds at a time.

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