In the photograph you flaunt all your teeth
to signal you are not grown unwholesome
by the violence you do in the photograph.
You are hazing an Iraqi, working toward the Führer,
behaving as animals, violently absent
from your own photograph. When they took your picture
to court they constrained it in a chained
iron case, digital, weighty, flanked
by blank doormen, and every morning since
and before, a squirrel spills out of a tree
onto gravel as though to wrench me awake.
Red. Not as the breast of the sign for bird
on a peaceably secular Christmas card,
not a scarlet alpha forcibly worked
onto a fictional dress, not the only colour
in a black and white film about war,
not even the real red dress,
belted, brief, minatory,
my daughter starved herself a week to wear,
not a deer, not love, not blood,
a squirrel will always dance clear.
And now there is a constellation of photographs
describing an animal we cannot dub archer or bear,
a creature we may not tame with metaphor
since metaphor got us into this mess.
But Alice is baking biscuits, she has eyes
like animals, her hands do not shake,
biscuits with nuts in, biscuits with butter,
each careful measure of what Alice adds.