Berlinde De Bruyckere


I am thinking of your mind sculpting

the carcass as raw matter, slumped heap

from which meaning must be freed—

of your hands inside the wreckage

of a black horse: tang of blood & spoil,

thrumming of the hide scraped clean—

of the primitive efficiencies of fire:

hooves, head, bones, gut, tail reduced

to cinder-glare & nidor, then shards

of tooth & femur strewn through ash—

of iron, wood & glass, the tortured

armature you fashion; coastlines

of the cured skin reunited, punctured,

clamped—of filament & needleflash

repeating; varnishes & resins, swirl

of fumes & curling scraps—of what remains

after the work of disarticulation: the torso,

scoured, hollowed & suspended

from the rafters, the animal recast

as emblem of its pain & stress.





All morning I have watched them strip the carcass
of a doe, this black-frocked rabble gathered
at the first inkling of spoil, crews of shuffling roughnecks
taking shifts at her unrigging, heads red-slathered
hooking into windpipe, cheek & tongue—
then wings cuffing the fly-thick air as several take
to blasted scrub oaks, striking attitudes horaltic,
bodies wide-flung to the sun—archaic instruments of clay
fired chaste in noon’s white kiln. What kind of hunger
drives a mind to ply this dire tableau? What eyes
have I been given that I scavenge charnel ground—
at home among the rifling wake, impenitent, unshriven—
for tatters I might piece into a self-consoling song?

Andy Nicole Bowers studies and teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she serves as the Juniper Fellow in Poetry. Her fascinations include still lifes, illustrated anatomies, cabinets of curiosities, dioramas, and reliquaries. Her recent work has appeared in Big Big Wednesday and Structo.