Four Poems by Adrienne Raphel



The mind will play tricks, resist it.
It’s cancer until the body repeats it, nix it.
If the leg isn’t broken, don’t fix it, retrain it. 
Until it must just fit, adjust it, the worst is still later, it’s
the mammal that’s still in distress, 
dissect it, inspect it, vivisect it, inject it. Forget it.
What planet’s a saint, the mind will play tricks.
What’s Jurassic, restrict it. T-Rex it, instruct it.
What animal not on the ark, 
the octopus stuck in the glass as itself.
The mind will do things, predict it, discuss it, digest it, disgust it.
The mind will play tricks but the body is there, erase it,
the mind will go on if the body is blasted,
nothing is new and the body, don’t ask it.
The world hasn’t ended, don’t jinx it.
Relax, you won’t miss it. 
The mind will be resting, don’t trust it.
The body will sleep but the mind only lies in wait.



A deer crashes through the window at the gym,
past reception, past racquetball, runs
to the wall of glass all the way on the other side:
it’s strong, bounds off: bounds 
round to the open-air stairwell that goes 
downstairs to cardio: arcs, leaps over the pink metal railing, 
onto the blue flecked carpet in the vestibule:
office: treadmills: daycare: it’s caught: 
rears up: slips down: it’s stuck 
in the vestibule: vertical: rears up: two legs: 
falls back: mouth bloody: eyes filled with nothing at all.
Am I capable of murder? I work out 
in the other room, the deer goes
past recognition in the vestibule,
aquarium deer, foamy, fur pocked with blood,
eyes like a baby gone gray. 
Reception has the deer on the phone,
a video, a leaping, you can loop it.
What’s the plan for the deer? 
Is the game warden going to tranquilize it? 
I’m not supposed to be here,
this time of year.
The Museum of Natural History has
hundreds of animals 
stuffed mid-whistle, mammals, reptiles, birds,
animals are petrified for their lives. 
Raccoons are screaming in the trees.
I am waiting to be broken. 



She thought she saw Emotion
Unwind a spool of thread:
She looked again, and found it was
Her Feet that had gone Dead.

She thought she felt a Clarity
Upon the middle shelf:
She felt again, and found it was
Only a second Self.

She tried to dig a Rosebush
To plant against the wall:
She dug again, and found she dug.
Where has the soil gone.

She tried to be a Root until
She found another start:
She tried again but only got
Tied up in other knots.

She thought she felt B. B.,
She closed her eyes to see
She looked again, and found it was
Her own name in a tree.

She thought she was a Party Girl
Party Parasol,
She looked again, and found it was
A party after all!

She thought she saw the Angels
Standing at the door:
She looked again, and found it was
The Angels at the door.

“I’m waiting out my feet,” she said,
“I won’t go to my head.”

“The worst is yet to come,” she said,
“I wonder what it’s like to be.”

“Let’s party in the garden!”
“We have to get so small.”

“The Robins look like Swallows
I’m nowhere near relief.”

“It’s better that it’s gone,” she said.
“The Earth is awfully small.”



My dad brought his dad to the funeral
in a box labeled, in shaky Sharpie, RATHEL.
Nice to see you, but we’d rather not.

The day was very cold and also another day.
We drove to another state, got there the same way,
last but not late. We stood around the plot

in a sort-of crescent like an ear.
We are here and also here. The sky is hard and tight.
The rabbi says a prayer she says we know.

There’s a funny green weed like a webbed hand.
I have a bruise over my left eye, I press it
so it feels things.

At home, I’ve lined up pouches of rodent repellent
on the floor, talismans against the living.
I hear them scratching in the walls, I hear them singing.

The feather-heavy ashes, yellow as cream of wheat.
My dad empties them where his sister lies,
the dirt is fresher than when she died.

Across the street, the front door of the white house is open,
the storm door shut. A dog sits motionless,
watching, one ear cocked like an eyebrow.

Later, I read the obituary, amazingly
by an Avalon Zoppo. Other headlines say,
The key to long life? Never miss a leg day.

Riches in NJ pot, exec says.
My brother was abducted,
I mean adopted, says the astonishing woman in the café.