The Supposed Huntsman

In her debut full-length collection of poems, The Supposed Huntsman, Fowley creates spaces that blur the lines of gender, species, and self: “Every animal is deadly / even the shape-shifter.” Fowley uses incantatory anaphora to enact endless transformations, becoming by turns a motley, plume-lit teacher-creature and a bear longing, like a bro, for a maiden in a tree. Drawing inspiration from Brothers Grimm fairy tales and troubadour tradition, Fowley’s poems elate and interrogate, ever aware that “childhood is so intensely serious.”

AUSTERE MEASURES

I.

I will taste my mouth.

What’s austere? A seer. An oyster full of hairs.

Master of the Leaping Figures, may I leap with you?

You may not leap.

Master, I long to tear the silk.

You may not tear it.

I run the better to taste my salt. I run out of rope.

You may not leap into your office.

I have no office of which to speak.

Not a window. Not a sink.

Master, I long to taste the milk. Master, may I feel your throat?

If it comes to this, if we cut the bush.

Master, may I pick a rose?

You may not smell it.

 

II.

Are you satisfied, Brother Dog?

Yes, with flesh.

Are you satisfied, Brother?

Yes, but I want to know.

Are you satisfied, cloth?

Yes, but I shiver.

Are you satisfied, willow?

If I die, I will be brought.

Are you satisfied, spinner?

I am satisfied but I have not touched the bread.

 

III.

Austere seagulls ball up on Brighton Beach. It is winter.

The frost we steer to and the frost we steel ourselves to and the frost we see to and the frost we move to.

I come to a breach the tide all tangled up in grasses, weeds, a churning place.

Master, it grows cold and ugly.

Take this salt. It will leave you hungry.

SIMPLETON

I am going to Simpleton to find something better than death. If I make music, it will have full play.

For anything I know is stolen. For anything I know falls in the kettle. For anything I know is devoured by the hungry dog.

I am traveling to find something better. To find something better, the bird refuses to work.

For anything I know is fast upon me. For anything gusts. For anything moves in the throat.

I am traveling to find a better dog. I am traveling to find the antidote. I am traveling to learn how to shiver.

For anything I know, I long to be there. For anything I know, I am a scholar.

Make me into soup for the morrow. I will suit myself to the times.

I HAPPEN WITH YOU

I am half above the hills. I am half below my form. My hands are full of roots and I have disenchanted all the birds.

Come with me, wind through a fir tree. Come skim the air like leaves. Come to a place where the trees are more lofty.

I’d trade my gold dress to spend one night in your chamber. I would like to see you spread on the hills like clover.

Into the blue water I will go first and fleece the clouds with a fine-toothed comb.

HAPPINESS

I am never more happy.

I am never more loose— my swimming tongue.

I ate all the petals in shades of orange and pink.

You lead me to a bower and bid me drink. There, I reproduce morning.

In shades of roaring our ears press against the lake.

My flag is wet. I’m up to my ears in a lagoon.

Without region the horse bounds.

I am never more happy than when I hear the waves rock.

The rock feeling its grain.

I am never more happy than when the moon jars me.

My soft production the fatal sun.