South Fork Poetry: ‘Return’

By Kathy Engel

The animals camp out in the farm 
of my body, a field of muscle, fat 
and bone, sea of nerves; they mend 
my vessels, sew back my arteries, sing 
my stutter, gallop my missteps — first a 
horse, then the others claim their places, 
even snakes and insects swivel and swarm.
I thought the rupture within was all 
a human thing — the mother, the father,
the lost girl — now I understand, the earth 
itself is calling and the animals, buried, 
scattered, those who rise, snort, bellow, 
murmur, hiss; their hooves, wings, fins, 
and tentacles seed the soil, serenade 
the sea, repair my soul. 

From “Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology,” just out from the University of Georgia Press. Kathy Engel is associate arts professor and chairwoman of the department of art and public policy at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School. She lives in Sagaponack. “Return” originally appeared in Poet Lore.