Like a chicken


You were a late man in your small
thirties when I found you in
the incubator.

You had been abandoned in your
youth for too many
early necessary months.

For years you chose a deaf
judiciousness and a way
of frowning safely at your feet.

Now I instruct you, enunciating
blunt clear clauses: ‘You must
trust me. I promise not to vanish.’

Some day you will warily
raise your eyes, you will feel
your ears unclench, and you

will run into my feathers
like a chicken.


Rachel McAlpine

Safe in the house


Safe, safe in the house.
Locked, locked
by the sun
to the couch.

I thought about freedom
the cold shout
the sharp blue and white
of your height.

I thought of another life
muffled and blurred with fluff
where pain is held in the mouth,
where backs are turned to the south.

Close for a time to your track
I found it bald and bleak.
But the sun shone white as chalk
and I thought my heart would crack.


Rachel McAlpine

Love song


Your forehead
is the curve
of the world.

Through your eyes
I slide
into a jungle

a tangle
of flying vines
of blood feasts

of jagged cries
of silent
silken steps.

Your blood has the beat of the sea.
It pulls to the pulse of the moon.

If I die
before I lie
with you

rocks will rain
from heaven
on my grave.


Rachel McAlpine