The People Who Feel No Pain

I let our daughter read a news story about one who walked months
                  on a broken pelvis before she noticed it
crunching inside her like dry leaves.

And I can hear L. now
                  practicing in the kitchen, holding her hands under water hot
as she can stand it, singing softly: I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care.

When asked to define happiness half the room will
describe a quality of light, the sky required to feel right.

For a while we shot the wolves from above, the removal of
                  every possible cause of pain,

but soon enough deer forgot what they were, grew fearless and gnawed
all the aspen sprouts sweet to the ground.

The bald mountain looks in the mirror and sighs.

Last night you paused on the ridge of my hip
                  and stayed there, breathing, making me ask for your mouth.

The other half of the room recalls learning something
                  about where to build the fire
so it doesn’t fill the cave with smoke.

Down in the city park someone has already tagged which trees get to stay,
                  and some night our daughter will want nothing more

than another’s teeth in her back.

In the far city, in a torn booth, long after last call she is saying I really like your politics
                  but she means I want to lick your face.

Little girl, little wolf.

The blade of the earthmover, how it
                  scrapes and shudders, shudders and scrapes.

Jenny Browne is the author of The Second Reason (2007) and At Once (2003), both from the University of Tampa Press. She has received fellowships in creative writing from the Writers’ League of Texas, the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, and the Writer’s Center of Washington D.C. Her work has been featured on public buses in Austin, Texas, in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, and on-stage at the Dallas Museum of Art. In summer 2011, she was selected by the University of Iowa International Writing Program and the U.S. State Department to travel to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya to teach poetry in secondary schools. She teaches at Trinity University.
*Photo courtesy of Kendra.
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