splinter cat

i dangled my face on a length of rope
as lure. stepped out into
the shattered woods. storms 
gut-punched each other until dusk
& now are feet were whittled down
to the hoof. taking comfort 
in the chatter of biblical birds.
their cowls & scripture-written feathers.
i wanted to find the mammal
whose skull marked trees all the way
to the other side of the gorge.
bark rubbed raw by their fits 
of determination. i have also 
spent nights ramming my skull
into trees. hoping to loosen
the nests of wings. praying the next knock
will be the one that's enough.
fracture the willow. gain all her arms.
he prefers birch. i feel every bone
as i trace his marks. in the distance
i can hear him. thump thump thump.
the pounding of bone to torso.
you used to tell me it is a miracle
i've made it this far. look at the scars
that make jacob's ladders across my arms.
no one has ever truly seen
the splinter cat & i am not sure
i would like to be the first. 
for now i just follow his evidence.
until the sun makes all the promises
it cannot keep. orange leaking
into the blue night. cracked knuckles.
iphone flashlight. mud caked on boots.
i find another tree snapped at the waste.
stop to collect its leaves to fill my pockets
as if they were twenty-dollar bills. 
i want to know everything about you
expect how you look. in the glow
of the waxing moon. i see your eyes sometimes
behind my own. dueling gems 
in a dark velvet box. 

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