by J.R. Tappenden
Waves of Boys
Buoys bob in waves,
wave ships to safety most days,
boys on each boat thankful
for the help in rough water.
Rough rocks hungry for the young,
mouthy crags chafed by buoys chained
there like fishhooks.
corners here and the coroner
is too familiar.
the hunger of rocks
waves in to shore, so wide and high
it pulls the buoys under,
covers their light, the light of boys, too,
hair in waves slowly toward bottom.
The coroner is too familiar
With the mischievous ways of waves.
We ran in a pack
and while we ran we waited—starving,
unhinged as the two-legged wretches
who sometimes made us mad offerings
of themselves. Tonight all creatures were asleep
except the owl, out on his own
hunt. We felt his horns follow us
as we coursed through the trees, swelling
around the trunks like a stream
in flood. The snow tracked us
even more faithfully. There was nothing
to catch. Even the people,
so loathe to concede their turf, retreated
against the winter night. So we took it,
howling ourselves into the dark
dreams of hares and foxes. We left our sign
where anyone could read it, a dare
for the hunter and his kenneled hounds.
At last. We felt his shivering
press the air into waves, felt his need
answer our own as we turned toward him, faster,
silent. He was alone
like the others, no overcoat, sunken
eyes. He didn’t flinch, only fell
to his knees as if to help our work
go quickly. We took him by his throat,
his bare wrists, we would be warm
beyond our own exertion and faster,
even as we carried his bones in our teeth.