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When Theodore Roethke Suddenly Knows What It Feels Like To Be A Lion, He Enters A Diner And Orders A Raw Steak

When Theodore Roethke suddenly knows what it feels like to be a lion,

he enters a diner and orders a raw steak. It was such a good day,

nature so explicit with him, little mongrel, little flirt,

that he couldn’t sleep, what with the rough, unfinished world,

so saturated with survival, it can’t help itself.

It’s a hothouse of kill and feed and multiply, fruit

and feather, gristle and chew and want, hunger and hunt,

drag back to the cold nest again. It has to thorn and rub

and run and burr and fly, and shake into the wind,

disperse, to seed and to root, and here it was,

patient with him while he fled into it.

Nature slipped its cool, soft hand into his,

looking at him with that knowing glance it has,

just wanting to be with him, his shirt undone,

his mouth half-open. Where have you been all my life?

He heard the roses, under their pinnate leaves, ripening their hips.

Nature let him in, transparent, weightless, confused,

trembling, a little wrong, but he couldn’t help himself,

drunk, savage, remote, microbial, a seed in the flesh,

a tooth, sharpening, coarse, terribly honest, too good, too good,

get me down, he said, get me down off this, he told the dean,

weeping a little in his growling bones.

from On This Day in Poetry HistoryFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2016
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on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Amy Newman Poems

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