On The Table

That is how the last buffalo herd is culled. I read on, spilling drops of tea on the news
page, letters darkened in spots. Across

the road, a tree I can’t name buds red.
To squint at its branch spellings, to iterate its Latin root
does not tell the story quite. Time to relearn spring—

clover leaf or cherry blossom,
what arrives at first blush and second. And then the herds returning

each season. Rangers say they carry bronchitis. Inherited seasons of hunger allow no
decorum for slaughter, as the parterre of trimmed trees along the Champs de Mars.

Leverage or the blade,
what word for control we couch, what collapse

the lyrebird sings in branches above. The air and the sun in the end,

ours. How this eye is lovely, calibrating an ordered world nude to fruit bowl to street-
scene to finally landscape, reached with machete out or picnic basket.

Indoors or outdoors,
what is dirt what is soil. Height or reverence,

what is earth what is Earth, whether laying your hands in it you devour another

version of the prized purplish liver steaming
from the buffalo laid low. It is warm and my seat is padded with cotton.
I search my wallet for a buffalo I swear is on a coin.

The letters of the ruffled news page are distinguishable by tiny claws, horns,
and manes. I smooth the page to a plane. Again I try to name that tree.

Brandon Lewis is a native of Wisconsin who now teaches in the Bronx. He received an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and worked, after, in the NEA’s Literature Grants Department. He has published review material in HTMLgiant, and his poems can be found in journals such as Poet Lore, Water~Stone Review, Fifth Wednesday, Oranges and Sardines, Harpur Palate, Phoebe, and Borderlands.