When all animals have died
even the ones in books
grow frightened, their eyes
like wormholes. Their spines
not so much broken, but the hide
abraded and peeling. The gutters
filled with debris,
plucked feathers, old yellow tape.
No one was there
to hear their last song.
And in between the last pages
were two old brown leaves
speaking in a language
only other brown leaves would know.
Daniel Bourne was born on a farm in southern Illinois. His books of poetry include The Household Gods and Where No One Spoke the Language, and his poems and translations have appeared in FIELD, American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Salmagundi, Tar River Poetry, Shenandoah, Partisan Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in the English Department and Environmental Studies program at the College of Wooster in northeast Ohio, where he edits the literary magazine Artful Dodge.
Homepage photograph via Flickr by craigfinlay