But from the outside it seemed
an acquisition, the populace confused by a hanging garden.
—The bucket full
then too full. Then overflowing completely
into nothing, call it
a new hour, the bells starting over. Each injured animal
accessible in the petting zoo; one limping.
One with mange. Others you could not tell
what was wrong exactly, but then,
there they were. Crenels and merlons like a queen’s crown.
Except dulled flat, like a queen.
There were no such invitations to the surf nor also to the picnic,
the month coming to an end, and the cash cow dry in the udder.
It’s been difficult to navigate my country
not speaking the language of my country.
Only a few more washes of the silverware.
Only a few more chargings of the nighttime dogs.
It will be a long life, I sometimes think, over my rind of melon.
I look then in my guide for the correct name to call it.
Some sentinels converge and diverge in varying formations.
A grocery bag blows by.
I want to present them with my shovel, but at last
know better, having learned something
from the pamphlets for God’s sake; the pamphlets.
The prettiest balloons light purple and dark purple,
and the eulogist in passing
having tied one to my wrist—There was proof of him
having been in the sea, I could taste
the sea salt in his salty hair. It was time not
to alphabetize the shelves again. The shelves of everything shelved.
The rather mottled pig
who peeks between
the pen beams whispered,
“Count the pigs out
playing in the field
and come to tell me.
I will fashion a beret
of plantain that rims
the fence rows and crown
you piglet of the hardest
hooves.” Easy, but
the pig who ran so fast
could have been himself
and the pig whose tail
he chased, could’ve been
the pig who hovered
with his hooflets outward,
a funny trick, or
maybe it was me?
I counted two, then
counted three. The vector
sum of pigs increased
as I approached, the blur
of legs and snouts, and
they themselves, however
many, chanted numbers
to each other, prime
numbers in four digits
was the pattern I perceived
before the wind shifted
and the pigs like tumbleweed
blew south toward
Oni Buchanan’s first book, What Animal, was published in October 2003 by the University of Georgia Press. She has poems currently appearing or forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, The Canary, Fence, Seneca Review, Verse, and other journals. She is an MM candidate in piano performance at the New England Conservatory of Music.