I like to watch him when he works with small things—
songbirds, flying squirrels, voles.
Such delicate undressing requires
a scalpel, a gentle touch to tease the plumage
from the body, the fur from the flesh it once enrobed.
He says he wouldn’t be caught dead, no pun
intended, designing any damn Victorian
anthropomorphic tableau. For him, maybe it’s
more about their untamable nature.
He’s known especially for his hawks, the way he
captures the sharp, fierce flame of them—
though he’s drawn to the challenge of bigger game
and the locals always oblige. I can tell when he’s been
working with fox or bear, heavy animal musk
clinging to his clothes—I say, You smell like caveman, baby.
Come here. And he does, and I slide his shirt
back from his shoulders, and inhale the memory
of each wild story, the thick odours of rutting, the hunt’s
bright hunger—claws raking through prey, teeth sunk
deep into muscle. He lifts each predator’s lips into a snarl.
Sometimes he presses my fingers into the clay forms,
sculpting my hands with his own, while a killer’s
glass eyes weigh us from their case on the table.
They are like the void we look into, and know we
hold inside ourselves each talon, growl, and hackle—
pitiless, burning creature, baying in our blood.