Lantern Review

Matthew Olzmann

run out of words? When you don't know the difference
between the poisonous and the tender?
When you can't remember the variations
of every tooth and claw?

Imagine the ache in Adam's head as he struggled to hold
his library catalogues of skins and furs,
his Audubon indexes of talons and feathers,
to hold all of this, everything, burning, in his skull.

Who wouldn’t long for some kind of release?
Who wouldn’t plot an exit strategy,
as he, without sleep, kept pointing and naming,
pointing and naming, each time hoping
that this one was the last one?
But there is no end, he discovered.
Not even when he named the trails of ants
that latticed themselves over and under
the iron fence posts, or the worm
in the fruit, or the thing that crawled toward him,
on its belly, forever, anonymous and kind.