We Omnivores

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Contributor: William Doreki

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The weasel living in my wood-rack
has whitened for winter. Caught
in the sneer of my flashlight,
his snout points west, his tail
points east toward the risen moon.
Mice rustle under the wooden deck.

They smell the musk and hustle
to their holes. I’d photograph
this streamlined carnivore but
already it has sleeked around
the corner of the house to scout
for unwary prey. The silence

of its presence and its absence rhyme.
I could step outside and attempt
to freeze-frame it somewhere
along the rear wall, but the dark,
even moonstruck, repels me.
I’m not much of a carnivore,

compared to this least weasel.
I lack the bright-eyed purpose
Keats saw in animal instinct,
lack the ferocity required
to rip the heart from a carcass
still quivering with surrender

and eat with a clear conscience.
Keats self-devoured both lungs
because nursing his consumptive
brother exposed him fatally.
No true carnivore would risk
its hide for anything but offspring;

so despite his admiration
for single-purpose creatures
Keats lacked the cruel commitment
the nineteenth century asked
of its artists. I could wait
to see the weasel return

with a mouse in its jaws. Maybe
photographing that event
would redeem me; and maybe
the moon, high overhead by then,
would absolve me of timid moments
only omnivores can afford.

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WD lives in NH, teaches at KSC, has published in a bunch of places.


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