BUT I NEVER WOULD
When we got Asian dogs, we expanded to a king-sized bed.
This is what the percolator slurped, grinding its sloshy morning grit.
The most beautiful love is alive, lifetime to lifetime.
I heard this, just as I woke to the fierce strutting of crows.
I know you don’t believe everything I write, how many times I’ve died.
How the belly plankton becomes you. How our bodies in heat both crave salt.
I respect your blindness as I might the mail carrier’s slumped shoulder.
I greet her each morning so that she knows she carries something alive.
I could kill a summer swan, carve one layer of tender yellow fat as a delicacy, and
contemplate its swimming and its flight.
But I never could—nor would—because the swan is sacred throughout India.
Please, if you receive this message, pet the dog, expand your hand, replace the bird in
your chest one worm at a time, date this message forward three cat lifetimes from
Consider this. What year that would be—whether you’ll be born again screaming or
weeping, weeping or just simply alive.
George Kalamaras is the author of thirteen books of poetry, including Symposium on the Body’s Left Side, Your Own Ox-Head Mask as Proof, The Recumbent Galaxy (co-authored with Alvaro Cardona-Hine), and Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Contest. His most recent is Mining Camps of the Mouth, winner of the New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM Chapbook Contest. He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.