How to Cure

by Rebecca Gayle Howell

Because the fly
does not rest

because it is a machine
its body formed from bronze

its head, bullion
its wings from glass

because this small alloy
cast in flight

needs muscle
still humid with life

you have no time
to lose

After the slaughter
after the neighbors have gone

and the blood has soaked the ground
after the knife

drop your cracked hands
into the ice bath

Knead her shoulders,
thighs, knead each length

slow like it is your own, sore
from this day’s already long work

Rub her with salt, black
pepper, molasses, borax,

fear, keep that glowing scavenger
away from what it needs from what you need

because you are a machine
and this is what you are here for

And when the peach trees blossom
when your weather has turned

lay hickory and apple
lay sassafras, fuel

fresh split, tender and green
In this open house

logs transcendent with air
no mud or mortar or screen

start the smoke rolling

great next coming,
great smothering

Each blazing day counted
by every pound of flesh

you own

REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL’s poems and translations appear in such publications as Ninth Letter32 PoemsEcotoneIndiana ReviewHayden’s Ferry Review, and Poetry Daily. Her translation of Amal al-Jubouri’s Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation was selected to inaugurate the Alice James Books Translation Series in 2011.