Wednesday, January 3, 2024

"He Marries the Stuffed-Owl Exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center" by Patricia Lockwood

He Marries the Stuffed-Owl Exhibit
at the Indiana Welcome Center

He marries her mites and the wires in her wings,
he marries her yellow glass eyes and black centers,
he marries her near-total head turn, he marries
            the curve of each of her claws, he marries
the information plaque, he marries the extinction
            of this kind of owl, he marries the owl
that she loved in life and the last thought of him
in the thick of her mind
            just one inch away from the bullet, there,
                                            he marries the moths
who make holes in the owl, who have eaten the owl
almost all away, he marries the branch of the tree
that she grips, he marries the real-looking moss
and dead leaves, he marries the smell of must
that surrounds her, he marries the strong blue
            stares of children, he marries nasty smudges
of their noses on the glass, he marries the camera
that points at the owl to make sure no one steals her,
so the camera won’t object when he breaks the glass
while reciting some vows that he wrote himself,
he screams OWL instead of I’LL and then ALWAYS
and takes hold of the owl and wrenches the owl
away from her branch
                      and he covers her in kisses and the owl
thinks, “More moths,” and at the final hungry kiss,
“That must have been the last big bite, there is no more
of me left to eat and thank God,” when he marries
the stuffing out of the owl and hoots as the owl flies out
under his arm, they elope into the darkness of Indiana,
Indiana he screams is their new life and WELCOME.
They live in a tree together now, and the children of
Welcome to Indiana say who even more than usual,
and the children of Welcome to Indiana they wonder
where they belong. Not in Indiana, they say to themselves,
the state of all-consuming love, we cannot belong in Indiana,
            as night falls and the moths appear one by one, hungry.

Source of the text – Patricia Lockwood, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals.  New York: Penguin Poets, 2014, pages 7-8.

TJB: Hoosier epithalamium. In a litany bursting with life, a funny, insane blazon, the poet describes a man marrying a stuffed owl. Far cry from Jack & Diane.

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