“You are not surprised when I tell you
a spotted hyena at the zoo is killing itself,
gnawed from paw to knee, and no one
can figure out why it wants
to destroy itself. You tell me you found
a coyote's leg in a spring trap once.
You knew that an animal, in its wildness,
would chew through its tendons, snap
its own bones. There are parts of ourselves
we can learn to live without. You tell me
about a woman you saw today,
a despair you recognized through her veil,
and you'd wondered why, in grief,
it's necessary to hide your face, if
death leaves its teeth marks on our cheeks.
I wonder if hunger is stronger than grief
and tell you that if a cuttlefish is starving,
it will eat one of its three hearts.
And I wonder if, after they offered
their bodies to their father, Ugolino's sons
cried as they crawled around him in the dark,
if, before he took his hand away from his mouth
and strangled them, he studied them, deciding
if his teeth were strong enough to eat
through the red fever of the body.
When I look at you, I know you're right.
What matters is what's left of us.”
—Concerning Cuttlefish and Ugolino - Traci Brimhall