Tracy K. Smith

A Hunger So Honed

Driving home late through town
He woke me for a deer in the road,
The light smudge of it fragile in the distance,
Free in a way that made me ashamed for our flesh–
His hand on my hand, even the weight
Of our voices not speaking.
I watched a long time
And a long time after we were too far to see,
Told myself I still saw it nosing the shrubs,
All phantom and shadow, so silent
It must have seemed I hadn’t wakened,
But passed into a deeper, more cogent state of dream–
The mind a dark city, a disappearing,
A handkerchief
Swallowed by a fist.
I thought of the animal’s mouth
And the hunger entrusted it. A hunger
So honed the green leaves merely maintain it.
We want so much,
When perhaps we live best
In the spaces between loves,
That unconscious roving,
The heart its own rough animal.
                        The second time,
There were two that faced us a moment
The way deer will in their Greek perfection,
As though we were just some offering
The night had delivered.
They disappeared between two houses,
And we drove on, our own limbs
Sloppy after that, our need for one another
Greedy, weak



“A Hunger So Honed” is from The Body’s Question (Graywolf Press 2003).