by Kathrine L. Wright

The beauty of man lies in the force
he doesn’t use; his ability to command matter
yet let it choose its own side
of the river, to let the river number
its tributaries, weave clear
its own paths, while he stands in watch.

You, with the clement hands of my watch
that turn like spokes as I gently force
their movement. Your hands quickly clear
the valleys I press you to. What matters
is this: in the Serengeti, a small number
of beasts abandon the eastern side

of the park, cross rivers, find themselves side-
struck, poison arrows lodged like ticks, watch
their own body parts flung like numbers
into stock-piles, later traded for money. Force
is natural here, and it hardly matters
that the tribesmen strip away the ivory in the clear

of the afternoon. I hold you when your words, like clear-
winged moths, eat the fruit you’ve given me, the sides
of your mouth quivering as you turn madder
for the kill. I say nothing, watch
the moths flit away, return in forced
landing, wings pounding the table, trying to number

The times they’ve taken too much. They number
what they cannot hold. In the clear
of the Savannah, animals live without the force
men play against one another, animals side
with Darwin. Young males rest together in the rain, watch
the weak with hungry eyes, would think, if they could, that matter

occupies space in the living; what matters
then, is dinner. The trick is not to number
your meals expectantly. Animals watch
one another in the moonlit grass, take clear
and clean the fairest victories this side
of the Orangi: exquisite horrific force

embraced in a matter of miles. You and I will not force
the river. The clear waters strengthen as we watch
the numbers yield: we burn for a way inside.

Kathrine L. Wright‘ s fiction and poetry is upcoming or has appeared in New Orleans Review, Weber Studies, La Petite Zine, Cenotaph, and What There Is: The Crossroads Anthology. She has a B.A. from the University of Utah and worked as an editorial assistant for Quarterly West. Kathrine is currently working on a novel (in novellas) entitled Back Space. A native Utahn who grew up camping among red rocks and sagebrush, she now resides near the Everglades.