What Feeds on Want

John Rybicki

I row with the wind in my apple-wood skin,
maw on crow’s dust and raw turnips.
What feeds on want behind the masks of houses?

I pinch the flames to undo the blouses
of lit windows where men kneel to worship
in flesh a fiery blossom. I row with the wind past houses

where mothers throw flames to the walls for their kin.
They part back one rib, pinch at their own embers to blur
away the dark. Bravery behind the masks of houses.

Love of mine, with your button-down castle in a blouse
of gray bricks, you toss skin blankets over your girls, yet furnish
your wolf with no clothes. I maw on the wind

and the burnt summer grasses. Since time began,
spit from the womb, rolled round in broken glass, I have come to worship
what feeds on want behind the masks of houses.

No one unbuttons your skin, or drinks the scent from your blouses;
nor wets your eyelids with kisses; nor warms your mask with curses.
I row with the wind in my apple-wood skin,
maw on love’s fire shining in the masks of houses.

John Rybicki is the author of the collections Traveling at High Speeds, We Bed Down Into Water: Poems, and When All the World Is Old. His poems have been published in The Best American Poetry 2008, Alaska Quarterly Review, Field, The Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere.
Originally published:
January 1, 2019


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