The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “Still the Animals Enter” by Jane Hilberry

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“Possibly, this time”

A hole in the fence where the deer,
sensing something better on the other side—
apples sagging on branches—break through,
their antlers scraping the wood slats,
and file in, elegant, decorous,
placing their hooves on the grass
as if they were weighty objects,

and the ticks from the deer
bed in the long grass until one is swept
into the cushy fur of the golden retriever
who romps and gallops
turns tight circles in the yard
who loves above all
his owner
bounds back
to her shoves her legs
rubs himself against her ankles
pale in summer beneath the spiky aspens
gives her the tick, a kiss.

And like a radio broadcast which starts
behind glass but beams its signal
into kitchens across the city,
the state, into car radios
as men drive away from home
(possibly, this time, not coming back),
into offices where fluorescence
makes the workers look ill, sends its song
into the night when most lights
are quenched, except
a slow string as the janitor makes his way
down the hall, radio hooked
to the edge of his cleaning cart—

so the bite, unremarked,
sends its shock waves, broadcasts itself
to all of us in the precise locations
where we hear the news
(her head in a bag
she herself taped shut, then waited
for the air to run out—)

each point on the map a pin fixed to a red thread
that stretches to her house, her couch—
our threads crossing threads stretched
to other pins (cocktail of drugs,
blood filling the bath)—

we’re all bound now

aghast and grieved at the hole they opened up
tore by force
to make their way to another world.


This selection comes from Jane Hilberry’s poetry collection Still the Animals Enter, available now from Red Hen Press. Purchase your copy here.

Jane Hilberry‘s previous collection, Body Painting, won the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in the Hudson ReviewDenver QuarterlyColumbia Poetry Review and many other journals. With her father Conrad Hilberry, she co-authored This Awkward Art: Poems by a Father and Daughter, introduced by Richard Wilbur. Her interest in visual art led her to edit a letterpress volume titled The Burden of the Beholder: Dave Armstrong and the Art of Collage and to write a book of biography/art criticism called The Erotic Art of Edgar Britton. She also co-authored, with Mary Lynn Pulley, a little book about email. In addition to teaching Creative Writing, Creativity, and Literature at Colorado College, she has facilitated creativity workshops and arts-based leadership development programs across the United States and at The Banff Centre in Canada.

Beth Couture currently serves as both a Board Member and an Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. Her work can be found in a number of journals and anthologies, including Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, The Southeast Review, Ragazine, and Thirty Under Thirty from Starcherone Books. Her novella, Women Born with Fur, was published by Jaded Ibis Press in 2014 as part of its Blue Bustard Novellas series. She is currently working on her Master’s in Social Work at Bryn Mawr College, and she lives in West Philly with her husband and five cats.

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