the taxidermist’s lover
he talks animal all into the night
while i barefoot myself into my books.
take handfuls of ground beef
& lay them to rest in the cast iron pan.
heat teaches away pink and red.
he tells me i’m prone to over cooking things.
like him, i want to be sure what we swallow
remains still. his hands like dead doves. his throat,
the warden of an old piano. outside
i stare into the woods looking for a ghost.
when i was a boy i used to make burials
for bird skeletons i’d find up on the hill
by the old decaying housing. nothing but
their bricks. i would knit flowers
into their feathers & say an our father.
the church bells would come over me
like a flock. then, one day, i lifted a bird
i thought was dead & he came back
to life. fluttered & called & disappeared
into the trees above the railroad.
i prefer the full creatures. stay away from him
when he works on just a face. a row
of elk & deer staring forward like a jury.
their bodies still running away.
should it trouble me
he is just as careful with the dead
as he is the living? climbs into me.
traces a finger from my chin
to the center of my chest. kisses my neck.
we have so many last suppers with just our skin.
a drawer of glass eyes. real eyes
becoming no wheres in their dirt.
this week he mounts a barn owl & i have
visions of waking up to find the bird
alive again & perched on the bedpost.
my lover still asleep. me awake.
me awake opening the window
& telling the bird to go.
By Robin Gow
Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming March 2022 with FSG Books for Young Readers. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Yemassee. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona, a poetry editor at MAYDAY, and the assistant editor at large at Doubleback Books. They live in Allentown Pennsylvania and work as a community educator on Domestic and Intimate Partner violence.