Cancer Scare – Kevin Blankinship

Landscape with two goats – Paul Gauguin

A flash somewhere, then suddenly
ponds that sprout starflower and shrub,
jasmine and beard lichen, spreading white fingers.
Rustling—here comes a net of curved horns
criss-crossing against each other, sturdy,
brown scythes moving slow.

The herd stops and looks. Now the world
is calm. See—no steps. Only the wind
pushing a branch caught on another branch. 
And then soft screams. They rise from
little mouths wet with mucus and tears.
The wild goats weep like a drone of hornets.

There—on the ground between grasses
and hooves, there spreads another pond.
Crimson, carmine, precious. Red sulphur
painting the dull rocks till they shine
like gold. Skinny legs set at hard
right angles, piled up unnaturally still.

Tan yellow fur ripped from skin
by a canine tooth and jaw—it dusts
the stone like fresh fallen snow.
Then, up the plain comes
the howling of hounds, a death song
kept by the beat of horses punishing stone.

Wildhorns scatter far. Back to the jasmine
and dwarf trees to cool craggy springs.
Back to hiding from the hunter. But the
hunter comes each day for a new mark.
The herd shrinks and shrinks, till one day
the wind finds only itself.

About the Poet

Kevin Blankinship is a professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University. His essays and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Gingerbread House, Blue Unicorn, Wine Cellar Press, and more. Follow him on Twitter @AmericanMaghreb.

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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