Fence Catching Heart

                                                            Wanting out no matter what, the cow jumped.
                                        Standing on watch along the fence line,
                    suddenly in the path of her leap, I fell
to the ground to dodge her havoc of hooves.
                    Landing clear, she pulled the four live wires
                                        loose from the posts, down onto me,
                                                            their pulse taking over mine.
                                        She entangled me in her need to get free.
                    My parents watched, unmoving, amused,
                                        uncertain of what to do.
                                                            With each shock, my limbs blinked
                                        into disconnection. To get free fast,
these hands had to lift, the legs had to kick
                                                            the wires. They snapped back into place
                                        like puppet strings. Eyes going black
                                                            in the aftershocks
                                        had to be shut. Then this body
                    had to turn off and pull.
                                        After the first few attempts
                                                            I thought they would run to the switch,
                                        cut my voltage, grab my shoulders, pull.
                    I’m not touching you. Get yourself out.


Michael Walsh's The Dirt Riddles received the Miller Williams Prize in Poetry from the University of Arkansas Press as well as the 2011 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared in publications such as This American Life, The Writer’s Almanac, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cimarron Review, The Cincinatti Review, DIAGRAM, cream city review, and Prairie Schooner.