Poem 49 ± July 23, 2015

Eduardo C. Corral
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

I approach a harp
in a harvested field.
A deer
leaps out of the brush
and follows me

in the rain, a scarlet
snake wound
in its dark antlers.
My fingers
curled around a shard
of glass—

it’s like holding the hand
of a child.
I’ll cut the harp strings
for my mandolin,
use the frame as a window
in a chapel
yet to be built. I’ll scrape

off its blue
lacquer, melt the flakes
down with
a candle and ladle
and paint
the inner curve
of my soup bowl.

The deer passes me.
I lower my head,
stick out my tongue
to taste
the honey smeared
on its hind leg.

In the field’s center,
I crouch near
a boulder engraved
with a number
and stare at a gazelle’s
blue ghost,
the rain falling through it.

Eduardo CorralEduardo C. Corral is the author of Slow Lightning (Yale University Press, 2012), selected by Carl Phillips as the 2011 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, Beloit Poetry Journal, Huizache, Jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Quarterly West. His work has been honored with a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and writing residencies to the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He has served as the Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Creative Writing at Colgate University and as the Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

Photo by JW Stovall

This poem was originally published in the Indiana Review (spring 2002) and appears in Slow Lightening.