Love in the Western World

Think of family, Ulster Irish

run out on a ram’s horn,

our first real move.

the same square hands

ploughing through Missouri

And Iowa and Minnesota,

where we learned to muffle

the cavities of the body,

batten the heart down

on loneliness. Still it beats

family, family, as if the pulse

of our one-to-a-body rivers

ever ran singular. And if nothing

continues – the body ending

in this fist, everything short

of the mark – what do we want?

Don’t give me history. No bridges

from my heart to your heart

to all of them stringing back

like dark berries: only

open my hand, press it

for the feel of the river,

the old fishline unreeling again.


–Kathy Callaway