I was there, at your childhood Christmas,
crouched behind the tree, my striped backside against the wall.
You missed one gift because I had it in my mouth--
we have always shared everything.

I was there, the first time you made love,
denting the corner of the bed with my weight,
the breath from my nostrils sliding your hair across your eyes.
I was there in the morning,
and there a week later, pacing and turning circles as you cried.

I was there, with a chicken in my mouth
in the sacristy as you said your vows.
I was there at the end of the table with the cousins
that night, yawning wide while you danced.
I was curled silently in the back seat when you drove away.

I have been there, at your job,
at reunions and funerals and vacations and hospitals.
We have always shared everything.
I am there because my chest breathes air, 
my heart moves blood-- 
I want my life just as much as you want yours.

When the man comes, with his gun or his scythe,
I will be there.
He will hang us up by our heels and say, "Well now. Lookit you,"
and we will be still forevermore.
Until then, I am with you, with one eye cast down
on the dirt trail in the night,
and the other cast up
on the impossible wheeling stars. 

For Fireblossom Friday



Holy wow. Thylacine as heart, as essence, as self. Her spirit animal, taken to the next level. So clever.

I love the double meaning in the title, and again here, in "missed":

"You missed one gift because I had it in my mouth"

"Pack" is family, but it is also a command --- to a gypsy, perhaps --- telling her when it's time to relocate.

The missed gift --- unseen and longed-for --- is her voice.

One eye down, one up. Her guardian.

This makes me feel safe, and also reminds me how important it is to hold one's inner voice --- her animal nature --- close and dear, in this life and beyond.
I always love your poetry and think it amazing. This one is wondrous too, and beautifully wrought, and I get what you're saying – but I find to my surprise that I am too invested in the reality of the thylacine to like its being used metaphorically. I struggled to put this aside when commenting on Kim's poem, but now I think I must declare it. It's irrational and unfair, but there it is. I'm Tasmanian born and raised – not indigenous, but I suspect all Tasmanians feel both proprietary and sorrowful about the vanished thylacine. It's not your fault; on the contrary, I'm very pleased you chose this subject as a prompt. I found out that I needed to write on it. Only the attendant emotion is interfering with my response to your poem – sorry! (And did with Kim's too, to be honest.)
Fireblossom said…
S--Thanks so much, you made my day.

Rosemary--Fair enough! I love it when my Fireblossom Friday has people thinking, expressing, commenting, feeling. I read what you had to say avidly and appreciate you giving me your honest reaction. It didn't occur to me that someone would fee that way, but of course it makes sense. I look forward to seeing what others will write. Btw, I am also fascinated with cassowaries and Tasmanian devils. I hope the tumor problem they were having has sounds awful.
Yes, I think the Tassie Devils will be saved, though the population much reduced.
Margaret said…
A spirit animal - one that inspires, strengthens, watches over you. My son's is an elephant - I think mine must be the horse... This has heart, depth, and sadness...
Margaret said…
Expedition Unkown (Josh Gates) had an episode on this animal...
Margaret said…
correct link:
Cloudia said…
Your opening lines especially: solid and satisfying as a pyramid
brudberg said…
This is like a perfect totem... and why not have one constantly on one's side?
For me it would be a bear walking there beside me.

The end with one eye down and one eye up made it for me.
Kerry O'Connor said…
Simply fabulous! The kind of poem that gives me chills. I love how the TT becomes a metaphor for memory, or ghost of the past, or that lurking feeling created by our subconscious minds that we are not alone.
Kim M. Russell said…
Your thylacine reminds me of the daemons in Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series – it could be a spirit companion or an alter ego. I also picked up on the missed present, and thought perhaps the thylacine represents a loved one. I admit that I had never heard of the thylacine before this prompt and had to look it up and find out more about it. I think I’m not alone in this and I can understand Rosemary’s protectiveness about it. I’m glad you made me aware of it.
Back to your poem, Shay! I love that it has a seasonal childhood start, with the line about sharing everything, and that second stanza grabbed me and shook me. The final stanza is a perfect ending.
tonispencer said…
Oh this poem makes me cry. I think of poor Benjamin in his tiny cell far away from home, of the staged photo with the chicken in its mouth...the things we do to animals...
Brendan said…
This is impossibly sad, which means to me bearing straightforwardly the dead weight of the animal world. Companion dogs have these cousins, and there is still blood on their teeth: But what of us? What have we lost, demanding dominion and due? A very large part of the heart. So sad.
Jui said…
I have no words to tell how beautiful your poem is! I am so glad I found this one. Many of the comments have already said it already. "just superb writing"
I wish you very happy weekend and happy holidays :)
Jui Positive Cookies
grapeling said…
grief and rage at the travesty of we two-legged animals, as you note, indecent and uncaring of our fellow denizens of this blue planet
Susie Clevenger said…
There is such power in knowing someone, something watches over you. I could feel it in this poem. One of my totems is a hawk. Everywhere I travel at some point I will see one. For a year one followed me every morning on my walk. Your ending goes straight to my heart.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Wow. One eye down, one turned up to the impossible wheeling stars. Fantastic. I could swear I commented on this already on my tablet, but those do not always go through it seems. This was a wonderful read, my friend.