poem to be read at the end of a year

By Bernard Ferguson

suppose you find a rabbit with a neck wound
among your hydrangeas. suppose you take it

inside, clean the wound, gather a few soft things
for a bed. suppose you feed it milk, apples,

watched the gashed flesh close, glisten
with scab, then fur. suppose you let the healthy

rabbit free, and because it trusts you now, it hovers
in your yard and doesn't leave. suppose

there is a rabbit in your yard that loves
your hydrangeas, your evergreens. suppose, soon,

another rabbit arrives and for a while there are two
before there are many. you leave trays of water

out at night, give each one a child’s name
from a list of names you once made with a lover.

suppose one night, you see the dull flash
of a mink across your bedroom window and you wake

to a rabbit’s severed head on your doorstep.
heads in the grass, a few in your verdant shrubs.

first you mourn as if you are being beaten, and then,
suppose you swear your fealty to revenge.

suppose, in your kitchen, there is a butcher’s knife
and blood whirling beneath your fingertips.

suppose, for weeks, you have waited, been vigilant,
but nothing has showed. suppose you realize, severely,

there was no mink. there were never any rabbits.
you are merely sitting in your own lawn, a weapon

between your hands, and you are listening
for the sound of a killer in your bushes.

Credits

Directed by Jean Coleman.

"poem to be read at the end of a year" by Bernard Ferguson. Reproduced with permission of the author.