Rage Borrowed

How was I to know     walking     that the forest
around us would deepen and black out the stars?
But we could hear the river    the rustles in the brush
You pulled a lump of clay from the ground
It glowed blue     smelled like rot—
a lump     a light to see by
That’s licorice fern I told you     that’s skunk cabbage
and there’s a used-up fox     The lump in my hands thickened
once you saw the fox opened on the ground
Grew too big to hold     I stretched it     draped
it over my shoulders     tied it around my waist
but it was heavy     and I sank to the ground
put my head to the wet ground
Leave it you said let’s go     It stank like the spent fox
But I couldn’t     I needed it now
I stretched     pulled     hollowed it
into a boat     I heaved in the river
Get in I told you     scared now     but you
would not get in     Let’s go I said
but I would go alone
Go down the river and out of you
unable to remember—had you pulled it out of me?
Had we found it when we woke?
Had we made it? Had you put it in my hands?

Megan Alpert is the winner of an Orlando Prize for poetry and a finalist for the National Poetry Series for her manuscript The Animal at Your Side. Her work has appeared in Harvard Review, Sixth Finch, Denver Quarterly, Contrary, and others. Her journalism has been published by The Guardian, The Atlantic, and Foreign Policy. She received a reporting fellowship from the International Women's Media Foundation.